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Madelaine Leonard: The Sociology of Children, Childhood and Generation

Reviewed by Prof. Dr. Manfred Liebel, 2018-07-17

Cover Madelaine Leonard: The Sociology of Children, Childhood and Generation ISBN 978-1-4462-5924-5

Madelaine Leonard: The Sociology of Children, Childhood and Generation. SAGE Publications, Ltd (London) 2017. 184 pages. ISBN 978-1-4462-5924-5. 31,35 EUR.

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There is a detailed German review for this work. Read here


The book gives a concise overview of the most important questions and research approaches in New Social Childhood Studies. They are presented and linked to empirical data in such a way that a critical assessment is possible. However, methodological issues are only marginally addressed. A particular advantage of the book is that structural and agency-oriented perspectives are linked and explained in their respective meaning. Childhood is, as is rarely the case, considered in terms of work, family, play and leisure. The author can refer to her own studies on the work of children in Great Britain. The newly conceptualized approach of "generagency" enables new perspectives on generational aspects of childhood. In contrast to approaches, which understand generation only as a structural category, she emphasizes children's agency and corresponding opportunities without ignoring their structural limitations.

One disadvantage of the book is that – as the author herself points out – it only refers to children and childhoods in the Global North, often using terms such as "developed" or "modern societies", which I find problematic. Although the book is not free of Eurocentric one-sidedness, it must be acknowledged that the author can imagine different childhoods and gives concrete empirical indications. A limitation of the book, which also applies to other English-language publications, is that relevant literature in other languages is not considered.

Unfortunately, a comparable textbook in German does not yet exist. The book "Kindheit heute" by Heidrun Bründel and Klaus Hurrelmann (Beltz, 2017; see, which is intended as an introduction, is accentuated in educational science and provides only brief insights into childhood research in the social sciences. Madeleine Leonard's textbook also has the advantage of clearly defining the learning objectives and formulating discussion questions that can be taken up in courses.


A textbook suitable for courses, which, despite Eurocentric limitations, offers a concise insight into subject areas and theoretical approaches of New Social Childhood Studies and at the same time, suggests their critical reflection.

Review by
Prof. Dr. Manfred Liebel
Master of Arts Childhood Studies and Children’s Rights (MACR) an der Fachhochschule Potsdam, Fachbereich Sozial- und Bildungswissenschaften

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Cite this publication
Manfred Liebel, 2018. Review of: Madelaine Leonard: The Sociology of Children, Childhood and Generation. SAGE Publications, Ltd 2017. ISBN 978-1-4462-5924-5. In: socialnet Reviews, 2018-07-17. ISSN 2190-9245. Retrieved 2023-03-21 from

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