Children's subjectivity and welfare: (in)visibility and voice
FPCE University of Porto Porto, Portugal
Sarmento, Manuel Jacinto
IE University of Minho Braga, Portugal
The definition of norm(s) that tend to become exclusive reference(s) comes as consequence of experts' knowledge production about children?s welfare, within diverse plans - theoretical, normative, statistical, documental, which is sustained in criteria of comfort and human development, rooted in values and references that are induced through successive consensus about the idea of social welfare conveyed by modernity.
It is mainly expressed in dimensions that concern "provision" rights, as well as "protection". That is why existing indicators, produced by reference to normatively oriented social categories or dimensions, may scrape social actors' subjectivity, to which it refers and suppress their experiences and life conditions? diversity. The "objectifying" of life conditions and suppression, in data collection work of social actors' voices is expressed, in the case of children's welfare indicators, by adult centred, normative and out of context approaches, predominantly (if not exclusively).
To understand childhood as competent generational category, recognized in its alterity and constituted by culture producer subjects - dimension that is present in children's participative rights - allows to figure out another perspective towards knowledge building about children welfare: the one that intertwines objective, structural and "normative" indicators with the auscultation of children's understanding about their personal and social welfare.
In this view, knowledge production about childhood and children implies methodological renovation that wills to apprehend children's ways, processes and understandings, making large resource of ethnographic and participative methodologies. It must have particular acuity to the knowledge of children who are kept at the Welfare State social conditions' margin? - migrant populations, socially excluded, ethnic minorities, homeless children, sexual or work exploitation victims, etc. - but of the poorly known so-called "normal" children as well.
An insight at those "other" children corresponds to the recognition of an "other" Europe more aware of its margins and seen through the observation "other" that only children can provide.
In this paper we will try to deconstruct more common forms of knowledge about children's welfare and we will try to make the foundations for new ways of social indicators' building genuinely attentive to children's life conditions and subjectivities.