Children's Sociality

The Civilizing Project in the Danish Kindergarten

in Social Analysis
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The increasing institutionalization of childhood in Western societies has generated concern in the social sciences regarding the disciplinary and regulating regimes of institutions and their presumed constraints on children's social interaction. This article argues that institutions for children can also enable such social interaction. Drawing on Norbert Elias's proposal that child rearing entails a civilizing project, this article contends that being 'not-yet-civilized' enables children to draw on a wide range of emotions and bodily expressions that are unavailable to adults. Through an analysis of life stories narrated by Danish youths, it is shown that common grounds of interaction were established in early childhood, allowing them to turn this adultconstructed institution into a place of their own where they could develop a sense of sociality.

Social Analysis

The International Journal of Anthropology