Agency, autonomy and self-determination: Questioning key concepts of childhood studies

Ferdinand Sutterlüty, E Kay M Tisdall

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorialpeer-review


Children’s agency has become a popularised conceptual and practical concern, following the rise of the ‘new’ sociology of childhood and the wide-spread ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The promotion of children’s agency captured adults’ wish to recognise children in their own right, that children are social actors in their families, communities and societies, and that their participation rights need to be promoted. However, recent deliberations in childhood studies have encouraged a harder look at children’s agency on practical and theoretical grounds. This special journal issue addresses this agenda in three ways: to consider theoretical resources for re-framing agency and children’s agency and, in particular, to make it more empirically useful in research and practice; to consider underlying concepts (such as vulnerability and competence), and whether they limit or enhance children’s agency; and to develop alternative concepts, namely autonomy and self-determination, which may better support recognition of children as social actors and their rights.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)183-187
Number of pages5
JournalGlobal Studies of Childhood
Issue number3
Early online date28 Aug 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2019


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