WHO’S GOT THE POWER? YOUNG CHILDREN’S POWER AND AGENCY IN THE CHILD-PARENT RELATIONSHIP

  • Eija Mirjami Sevón Department of Education University of Jyväskylä
Keywords: agency, child-parent relationship, compliance, power, resistance, young children

Abstract

Children’s rights and their increasing voice in families have made relations between parents and children more democratic. Despite this, child-parent relationships have been claimed to be relationships between unequals from the perspective of power. Often, power is understood as top-down with parents as wielders of power over their children and children as recipients of parental demands. The generational ordering of relations between children and adults poses the challenge of how to conceptualize power in the child-parent relationship, and how methodologically to study power and children’s agency, in particular, from the viewpoint of young children. This study explored in what ways power and young children’s agency become visible in power struggles and negotiations in the child-parent relationship. The participants were 18 Finnish 4- to 7-year-old children. The data consisted of episodes of challenging situations in the child-parent relationship collected via a multi-method approach. In these episodes, power was related to parental authority and child compliance, but also to the child’s possibilities for agency via many forms of resistance and accommodation. Young children’s agency can be seen as connected to the opportunity to resist, to participate in the negotiation of power, and so to influence and evoke change in the child-parent relationship.

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Published
2015-10-26
How to Cite
Sevón, E. M. (2015). WHO’S GOT THE POWER? YOUNG CHILDREN’S POWER AND AGENCY IN THE CHILD-PARENT RELATIONSHIP. International Journal of Child, Youth and Family Studies, 6(4-1), 622-645. https://doi.org/10.18357/ijcyfs.641201515049
Section
Articles