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Högberg, B. (2010). Rethinking Childhood: The Quest for Participation and Its Implication for Group Relations: Keynote Paper Presented at the Opus Conference, London, 20-21 November 2009. Organ. Soc. Dyn., 10(2):238-262.
  

(2010). Organizational and Social Dynamics, 10(2):238-262

Rethinking Childhood: The Quest for Participation and Its Implication for Group Relations: Keynote Paper Presented at the Opus Conference, London, 20-21 November 2009

Britta Högberg

During the past decades, children's rights have become a significant field of politics as well as academic studies. Participation is particularly emphasised in the children's rights movement. In this paper, childhood and participation are seen as figures of thought, that is, essential concepts that determine how we think. Childhood is an old figure of thought in the midst of being reconstructed, and the UN Convention of the Right of the Child (UNCRC) is at the centre of this reconstruction. Participation is an emerging figure of thought that can be seen in relation to post-industrial society. Further, it is claimed that participation is a pivot of the group relations tradition, and, thus, discourses of participation are important for the understanding of the present state of group relations. Children's rights to participation reveal major dilemmas in the quest for participation that have implications for the present state of group relations. Changes in family life, the institutionalisation of childhood, and children's peer cultures are discussed and related to group relations. It is suggested that group relations today is trapped by the commodification of psychology and that resurrecting group relations as a moral project is a way out of the present stagnation.

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