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Contemporary Childhood

Contemporary Childhood

  • Sean MacBlain - University of St. Mark and St. John, UK
  • Jill Dunn - Stranmillis University College
  • Ian Luke - University of St. Mark and St. John, UK
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February 2017 | 256 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd

This brand new textbook brings you up to date with all the latest developments and keys issues from around the globe, and helps you understand how these changes are impacting on practice in early years and primary classrooms.


Key issues in contemporary childhood are explored through three sections on The Child, The Family, and Emerging Trends, with topics including:


  • the ‘Digital Child’ and the rise of new technologies
  • children’s security and the impact of poverty, austerity and conflict
  • children’s happiness, mental-health and wellbeing
  • the changing nature of families including LGBT homes, refugees, and asylum seekers
  • the challenges of multi-agency working


The pace of change in early childhood can be daunting, but this book helps students and practitioners understand the huge variety of issues affecting children in the UK and all over the world.

Sean MacBlain will be discussing key ideas from Contemporary Childhood in the SAGE Early Years Masterclass, a free professional development experience hosted by Kathy Brodie. To sign up, or for more information, click here.

1 The Changing Nature of Childhood
Shifting landscapes: children’s security  
Inclusion and children with additional needs  
Austerity and poverty  
Children as carers  
State of play in the UK  
Emerging curricula and proposed initiatives  
2 The Child’s Perspective
Current views on children’s perspective  
Childhood studies and children’s perspectives  
United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and children’s perspectives  
Challenges and tensions in listening to young children’s perspectives  
Methods for seeking children’s perspectives in research  
Innovative methods for eliciting the views of young children  
Children’s involvement in the research process  
3 Social and Emotional Functioning in the Learning Environment
Learning, happiness and well-being  
Attachment and the learning environment  
Loss in childhood: its impact on learning  
Fear and love in the lives of children  
Supporting children’s social and emotional functioning outside of the home  
4 Creating Optimum Learning Environments for the Child
Today’s challenges  
Identification and assessment: reflections on practice  
Ethical issues in the identification and assessment of children  
Low achievement and underachievement  
Children whose first language is not English  
Monitoring and evaluating practice  
5 The Changing Nature of Families
Divorce, separation and step-families  
The importance of fathers in families  
Grandparents and families  
Working with refugee and asylum-seeking families  
Working with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender families  
6 The Parent’s Voice
Listening to parents  
Working with parents  
Parents’ working patterns  
7 Multi Professional Perspectives
Evolving perspectives  
Challenges of multi-agency working  
Professionals and parents: working together  
Recent initiatives  
8 Policy, Discourse and Identity
Policy and practice  
Contemporary political ideology and philosophy  
Regulation, control and accountability  
Professionalism and professional identity  
9 The Digital Child
What is a ‘digital child’?  
Digital media  
The affordances of digital media  
Starting where children are: the importance of children’s learning experiences at home  
Children’s digital lives in the new millennium  
E-safety for children in a digital world  
10 International Perspectives
International variations in practice  
Children and conflict  
Growth of technology  
Provision for children throughout the world  
Economic costs of childhood  
The readying culture  
11 Contemporary Issues in a Global Society
Poverty and life chances  
Sexualisation of children  
Social fears  
Mental health  
Media and materialism  
The emergence of neuroscience  
Reflections on professionalism  
Child-centredness in a changing world  

This important book attempts to place the developing child within the many worlds they exist, to give us a better understanding of both the most obvious influences on them, and also the more subtle. Never shying away from the controversial issues, this book is not about an ideal child development story, it is about how modern children are growing up in a world that is often very alien to the one practitioners grew up in, culminating in the final chapter that explores contemporary issues in our global society, such as poverty, obesity, sexualisation, mental health, media, materialism and more.

Neil Henty
Early Years Educator

Lovely clear accessible text for all students of Childhood.

Dr Chelle Davison
Education, Coventry University Scarborough Campus
February 11, 2018

This book presents clear and accessible discussion around a range of features and theories regarding childhood. It has a useful focus on the UK, with relevant international and global issues. It is encouraging to see resources highlighting the different experiences of children with regard to refugee status, adpotion and LGBT families. The sources referred to in the chapters are useful sources for students, and support greater independence in resource selection.

Ms Ruth Hunt
CASS School of Education & Communities, University of East London
October 3, 2017

Encourages critical consideration of key issues and changing discourses relating to childhood. Essential for keeping graduates ahead in their field.

Mrs Paula Hamilton
Division of Social Sciences and Education, Glyndwr University
July 19, 2017

A most valuable and comprehensive coverage of contemporary childhood that also presents as a very accessible read. I will be recommending this book to students across a number of modules within the Child and Family Studies Programme

Ms sue mills
The Lifelong Learning Institute, Leeds University
April 7, 2017

The text in this book form a great description of modern childhood and its influence on children and how they might see things differently to adults and some of the stressful situations that might entail. The topics make great reading for debate and problem based learning

Mrs Eileen Mc Partland
Vocational Education, The Liberties College of Further Education
April 6, 2017

This is a wide-ranging text which offers a number of different perspectives on current issues in early childhood education and care. The chapters on international perspectives and contemporary issues in a global society were particularly relevant to some of our modules. The broad remit means that the text is a useful and thought-provoking starting-point, but would need to be followed up by more in-depth reading.

Mrs Mary-Louise Maynes
Department of Education Studies, Bishop Grosseteste University
March 2, 2017

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 1 - The Changing Nature of Childhood

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ISBN: 9781473952003

ISBN: 9781473951990