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Political Science
POLS 3710
Jordi Diez

3710Week7ReadingsProvidentialUnderstandingsofChildhoodandPublicPolicyDaudaThe UK Canada and the US have increased regulation of young peoples sexuality those from midadolescence to the age of 18 through the criminal lawChild pornography an issue in 2005 raising the age of consent in Canada in 2008What is apparent is that the goals of such groups have only been enabled when they are able to form alliances with other political actors with various agendas particular to each countryIn Canada the harm centered on adult sexual predators especially internet predators and child pornographers often referred to as pedophilesoLiberal government augmented the age of consent with tightened regulation of sexual exploitation and child pornography in 2005oConservative government was determined to raise it as they allied closely with victim advocacy profamily and religious groups as well as police associationsIn both the US and Canada while there is an underlying rejection of sexual diversity the focus in squarely on protecting adolescent girls and through them the heterosexual familyThe regulation of young peoples sexuality serves the purpose of various political agendasThe enabling political compromise between the various political actors involved in tightening the regulation of childrens and young peoples sexuality has been forged within the ideational realm and is particularly centered on the protection of childrenoRests on the symbolic ideas of children in relation to adulthoodIdeas of childhood and adulthood are relational and the term that has been used to captured this relational aspect is generationChildhood is conceptualized as dependent incomplete and incompetent compared to an adulthood that is independent complete and competentChildhood as a future adulthood has a much broader foundation in the political cultural and economic changes that have taken place since the 18 centuryFoucaultutilitarian concepts of state turned increasingly to promoting a productive population and the organization and rationalization of sexuality became a particular significanceoIt is this foundation of ideas about the heterosexual family that creates powerful and complex symbols ripe for political useBased on utilitarian concerns of the state in conjunction with the theory and practice of disciplines oThese symbolic ideas are powerfully evoked when issues of sexuality arise on the public agendaThis characterization of generation presents a number of challenges for policy makingo1 Use of the term child as a designation for those under the age of 18 conflates the several and varying stages of lives from infant to child to preadolescent to early mid and late adolescenceo2 Leads to characterizations of vulnerability in the young that may in fact perpetuate exploitation rather than provide protectiono3 The symbolic notions of generation as they arise within the context of an idealized conjugal family lead political actors to focus on external danger and disregard circumstances arising within the familyo4 There is little opportunity to consider agency and participation on the part of young peopleAs a consequence young people become an easy target for regulating sexuality as political actors manipulate these symbolic meanings to fulfill their own political goals in the politics of generationRecent political gains for equal rights by feminist and LGBQ activists have limited the scope for direct moral regulations of adult sexuality in Anglophone liberal democraciesPaper argument ideas of generation inform and enable political compromise among the political actors involved in the legislative processoAs a result legislation tends to protect the moral consensus of a future adulthood precluding the experience competence and agency of children and young people and extending moral regulation more generally into societyProvidential Understandings of Childhood and Public PolicyThe more traditional and unexamined concept of generation often prevails in contemporary policy makingThe conception of children as socially developing with its emphasis on children as inadequately socialized future adults still retains a powerful hold on the social political cultural and economic agendathThe disciplinary discourses developed throughout the 20 century whether based in biology or social interaction focus on notions of generation rather than on how childhood is experiencedChildhood is presocial with the potential of arriving at a socialized adulthoodEven when the examination of childhood is put into a social context as in the thsociological models of the 20 century the emphasis has been on adulthoodoTheories of socialization focus on conformity to social norms as a measure of how children acquire competenceoChildhood is seen as the period in which a pattern is set for adulthoodoExternal regulations lay down a foundation in childhood that does not change remarkably in adulthoodoThese discourses characterize the childadult relationship as social incompetence vs social competence As a result the political position of those considered to be children is vulnerable and they can be exposed to arbitrary measures oThis is because the dependence of children on adults is seen as the essential social arrangementchildren are reduced to potential citizensEven discourses of childrens rights reflect the dominance of ideas of generationoConventional theorythat rights arise from autonomous rational and independent individualsoInterest theoryrights arise from interests the respect of which must be required and set down in lawoBoth these theories bypass the intrinsic rights of children and rely on characterizations of childhood as future adulthoodoLeaves open the question as to how interests are defined and who defines them
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