Sociology of Children and Childhood - Syllabus
Sociology of Family, Prayer Before Birth, Sociology of Children and Childhood
SOC 3700 - Sociology of Childhood
Sociology of Childhood Syllabus - SYA 4930 Dr. Constance L. Shehan, Professor of
1) To become familiar with research that describes changes in the societal definitions of
childhood and childrens place in society.
2) To become aware of the methodological issues associated with research about children
that puts their own perspectives at center stage.
3) To become more familiar with qualitative or interpretive research methods (e.g.,
ethnographies, case studies, participant observations).
4) To acquire in-depth knowledge about the social, emotional, and economic circumstances
of childrens lives today and to learn how to find valid and reliable statistical
information about children on an aggregate level.
5) To understand more fully the differences between sociological and psychological
perspectives on childhood.
6) To have the opportunity to read original research about children that puts their
perspectives rather than adult perspectives at the center of analysis.
7) To become familiar with examples of cultural artifacts created by, for, or with
We begin with an examination of the changing social circumstances of contemporary
childrens lives, primarily in the United States. We focus on family and economic
changes and give considerable attention to social class differences in childrens
life experiences. We next examine traditional and emerging perspectives on childhood
socialization. Before reviewing recent research on gender and racial socialization of
children, we consider methodological issues involved in studying children. Our next topic
is the peer cultures created by children. We end with a brief discussion of fairy tales
and legends and childrens interpretations and uses of these cultural products.
Required Texts/Reading Materials:
(1) Corsaro, William (2005). The Sociology of Childhood. Pine Forge Press (paperback).
(2) Corsaro, William (2003). Were Friends, Right? Joseph Henry Press (paperback).
(3) Laureau, Annette (2003) Unequal Childhoods: Class, Race, and Family Life. University
of California Press (paperback)
(4) Clark, Cindy Dell (1995). Flights of Fancy, Leaps of Faith: Childrens Myths in
Contemporary America. University of Chicago Press (paperback)
Introduction to Course: Distribution of Syllabus;
Social Inequalities and Childrens Lives
A. Overview of Sociological Perspectives on Inequalities, Social Stratification, Social
B. Upper Class Kids: Privilege and Everyday Life
Documentary: Born Rich Reaction Paper
READ: Laureau, Chapters 1-3, 6,8, 9, 12, Appendices B and C; all relevant footnotes
Visit web-site for Jack and Jill clubs: www.jack-and-jill.org before class. Print out the
Underprivileged Kids: Poverty and Everyday Life
Video/Film: either In America or Angelas Ashes Reaction Paper
Visit web-site, www.childtrends.org
Welfare and Poverty get report (1) Children in Working Poor Families.
(2) Poor Children in Working Families Continue to Lag Behind.
Social Inequalities and Schools
Visit web-site for Annie E. Casey Foundation: www.aecf.org
The Changing Socio-Economic Context of Childrens Lives
Visit Web-Site www.childtrends.org for additional READING
(1) Family Strengths: Often Overlooked, But Real.
Parental Employment and Child Care: Childrens Responses
Visit web-site: Families and Work Institute: www.familiesandwork.org
(1) report of new study called Gender and Generation at the Work Place and (2)
press release for study called When Work Works.
Violence, Abuse, and Neglect in Childrens Lives
Film: Ellen Foster Discussion; Reaction Paper
Visit web-site: www.childtrends.org for additional READING
Child Abuse and Neglect: Media Handbook and
The Multiple Dimensions of Child Abuse and Neglect.
Gender Socialization: How Children Learn About Gender
Film: Ma Vie en Rose (My Life in Pink) Reaction Paper
Traditional and Emerging Perspectives on Child Socialization
Research Methods for Studying Children; Childrens Culture (Overview)
Film/Video: Stand by Me Reaction Paper
Peer Culture in Kindergarten and Elementary School
Video: Selected episodes from Kindergarten (HBO) Reaction Paper
Peer Culture among Pre-Adolescents
Film/Video: Thirteen or Planet 12Reaction Paper
Visit web site of UFs Center for the Study of Childrens Literature and
Childrens Myths and Rituals (I)
Childrens Myths and Rituals (II)
SOC 3700 - Sociology of Childhood
Course Description: This course explores the nature of childhood and the development
and socialization of children from infancy through adolescence. Through course
and discussions, the course will cover the agencies and social forces that shape
This course will incorporate the new Sociology of Childhood perspective, which
than assuming that children are passive participants starts from the assumption that
children are active participants who both shape and are shaped by their social
The course will also address the future of childhood which might be especially
to current or future policy makers.
1. Develop an understanding of the history of childhood and the changing societal
definitions of childhood and childrens place in society.
2. Become familiar with the various methods of studying children, and the ethical
issues involved in studying children.
3. Learn the major perspectives on childhood and socialization of children.
4. Become familiar with the major agencies of socialization, such as family, peers,
media, and school, with a special emphasis on peer cultures.
5. Develop an understanding of the larger economic, political, and social forces
affect and influence children.
6. Come to understand the major social problems confronting children and families.
7. Consider the possibilities for the future of childhood in the United States and