Childhood, Youth and Family Life Research

Organisation profile

Organisation profile

The research group on Childhood, Youth and Family Life is currently conducting several kinds of interdisciplinary research projects about the everyday life of children and young people across institutions and families. These research endeavors aim to uncover the consequences of ongoing modernisation processes for children and young people as well as for institutions and family life.

The concept of everyday life serves as a central analytical point of departure for the research which strives to analyse people’s contemporary experiences with tensions between stability and change, individual and society, and between practice and ideals.

Everyday life in changing societies

The concept of everyday life is used within social theory to focus on how larger societal changes influence the re-structuring of individuals’ everyday lives. Within phenomenology the concept is the theoretical basis for research practices which focus on different people’s experiences with material, social, cultural, and political aspects of their everyday lives and lived experiences. Furthermore, the concept of everyday life has been the basis for developing a research perspective focusing on children’s lives.

Research focus

The research undertaken within the research group covers a broad spectrum of different issues, but a special focus is on the increasing institutionalization of children’s and young people’s everyday lives and the consequences hereof. Another common focus is social processes of inclusion and exclusion, processes of individualization, and social communities.

The different research projects cover a wide variety of fields and draw on multiple methods, both quantitative and qualitative. Many of the research projects are centered on the analysis of interviews and observation of participants. The theoretical perspectives used by members of the group are also varied. However, three distinct fields of research can be identified:

  • Research on ethnicity, diversity, and differentiation
  • Research on social networks, communities, and family life
  • Research on pedagogical and educational institutions

Ethnicity, Diversity, and Differentiation (EDDI)

The research within this field focuses on examining how ethnic diversity, multiculturalism, and multilingualism influence learning processes and social processes of change in today’s societies. The research can be characterised as critical research on learning processes in multicultural institutional contexts. These contexts are primarily educational and pedagogical, but other types of institutional contexts and organisations are also examined.

The aim of the research is to contribute to:

  • Empowerment and recognition of ethnic minorities and furthering of their social, cultural, and political integration in society,
  • Creating knowledge about ethnic minorities and majorities experiential learning processes,
  • Changing the institutional, social, and societal conditions which obstruct the processes mentioned above.

Some of the most important methodological approaches used in projects within this field are:

  • Critical theory
  • Critical pedagogy
  • Biographical method
  • Discourse analysis
  • Experiential learning
  • Action research
  • Policy

Social networks, Communities, and Family Life (SOFF)

The research within this field focuses on how social individualisation and modernisation influence social networks, communities, and family life in today’s societies. The focal point of the research is the everyday life of families, and the agents, institutions and structures related to and conditioning family life. Communities and social networks, understood in a wide sense, are also included in the analyses of the projects.

A question which is central to many of the research projects is how modernisation and individualisation processes influence how communities are established and how people are living together.

The research is primarily empirical and includes studies of the relation between family politics and families’ everyday life, of children’s everyday life in families and institutions, family cohesion over periods of time as well as the impact of globalization for changes in family life including international migration, trans-nationalism, and patterns of coupling across cultural and ethnic categorisations. Subjective and agent-centered experiences and understandings as well as social patterns and structural conditions are the subject of empirical analyses.

The research also includes the more general theoretical conceptualisations of community, individualisation, sociality, modernisation, care, intimacy, etc. The methodology of social psychology is another important research theme.

Pedagogical and Educational Institutions

The research within this field focuses on children and young people in the formal learning contexts of their everyday lives such as

  • day care centres/preschools
  • the Danish state school
  • youth education programmes including the Danish upper secondary school

Furthermore, other contexts and arenas of everyday life (such as neighbourhood, home/residence, leisure time and consumption arenas) are included in the analyses.

An important focal point for the research is children’s and young people’s increasing management of their own learning processes. On the one hand this can be regarded as an indication of an increased democratic involvement, and on the other as an increased pressure on children and young people through external demands which are internalised as forms of self-governing.

A special focus is on the formation of new forms of normality within the social environments of late modern institutions which are again creating new forms of majorities and minorities. In relation to this the research also focuses on marginalisation, categorisation, and pedagogisation.

A number of different current phenomena within social and pædagogical discourses and pedagogisation are analysed:

  • Various and changing treatment paradigms and their relations to cultural, societal, and historical trends
  • Processes of inclusion and exclusion, and how these are defined and carried out in practice
  • The formation and content of evidence-based methods of treatment, and how these methods construct atypical children and young people.

Publication network

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