Gunter Graf

1 Conceptions of Childhood, Agency and the Well-Being of Children1

1.1 Introduction

Historical, ethnological and social scientific research shows that different societies possess diverse conceptions of childhood. They differ in their assessment of when it begins, ends, how it should be divided and which dimensions are relevant when demarcating it from adulthood. Therefore, the often held conviction that childhood and the way we deal with children is a simple and natural fact of the way human beings develop has been seriously challenged – childhood and the social norms we associate with it are contingent and indeed the notion of the “social construction of childhood” has become widespread in the social scientific literature, particular ...

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