The relevance of ‘competence’ for enhancing or limiting children’s participation: Unpicking conceptual confusion

Jo Moran-Ellis, E Kay M Tisdall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Recent debates about children’s participation rights, formulated in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, primarily focus on ‘effectiveness’ of implementation. However, children’s participation remains problematic, its limited impact on adult power in decision-making or on the nature of decisions made persists, and implicated in both are reservations about children’s competence as participants. In respect of this, we analysed conceptualisations of competence in 67 articles, published between 2007 and 2017 in six childhood studies’ journals, where ‘competence’ and its variations appear in the abstract. Although competence was rarely defined, conceptualisations were wide-ranging, covering competence as skills, as compliance with adult views, and as a trope signalling the field of childhood studies. As a result of our findings, we argue that epistemological clarity is vital for this concept to be useful regarding children’s participation and that attention must be paid to the different kinds of competence relevant for ‘effective’ participation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)212-223
Number of pages12
JournalGlobal Studies of Childhood
Volume9
Issue number3
Early online date28 Aug 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2019

Keywords

  • competence
  • social actors
  • children's rights
  • participation

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