Professor Alan Prout delivers plenary paper at conference on “The Social, the Biological and the Material Child”

L-CYR member Professor Alan Prout was one of the plenary speakers at a conference, held at the University of Sheffield,  that discussed “The Social, the Biological and the Material Child”. The conference organisers at the Centre for the Study of Childhood and Youth took Professor Prout’s 2005 book The Future of Childhood: towards the interdisciplinary study of children, as the inspiration for the discussion, saying ‘It is now a decade since Prout argued that to fully understand childhood, researchers need to attend both to its biological and social aspects, and the interconnections between these’.

They invited papers that engaged, theoretically and empirically, with biological, social, cultural, material and/or immaterial dimensions of children’s everyday lives and/or which explore these in relation to contemporary or historical childhoods.  Themes covered by the call included ones on: childhood, place and spatiality; childhood and health; digital childhoods; embodiment and childhood; the non-human, material and post human child; research methods for exploring the biological/social/cultural/material or immaterial in childhood students; and the intersections between these; cross and inter-disciplinary approaches to childhood research; and cross-cultural and historical constructs of childhood.

As well as Professor Prout, plenary papers were presented by Prof Nigel Thomas and Prof. Spyros Spyrou (who at short notice replaced Prof. Tess Ridge, who was unfortunately indisposed). Each of their papers addressed the key theme of the meeting, bringing different perspectives to bear on it, including political, environmental and ethical aspects.

Sheffield 2016

Professor Prout said: ‘It was inspiring to hear so many contributions to making a turn in the social study of childhood towards a more fully multi- and interdisciplinary approach. After a decade or more, scholars, especially younger ones, are finding innovative ways to bring together discursive and materialist dimensions of childhood. The next years promise to be very productive and exciting if the effort heralded by this conference can be sustained and developed.”

Further details can be found at: