The Ecology of ChildhoodHow Our Changing World Threatens Children's Rights

The Ecology of ChildhoodHow Our Changing World Threatens Children's Rights

Barbara Bennett Woodhouse

Print publication date: 2020

ISBN: 9780814794845

Publisher: NYU Press


This book uses the ecological model of child development together with ethnographic and comparative studies of two small villages, in Italy and the US, as its framework for examining the well-being of children in the aftermath of the Great Recession. Global forces, far from being distant and abstract, are revealed as wreaking havoc in children’s environments even in economically advanced countries of the OECD. Falling birth rates, deteriorating labor conditions, fraying safety nets, rising rates of child poverty and a surge in racism and populism are explored in the dish of the village as well as data-based studies. Globalism’s discontents—unrestrained capitalism and technological change, rising inequality, mass migration, and the juggernaut of climate change--are rapidly destabilizing and degrading the social and physical environments necessary to our collective survival and well-being. This crisis demands a radical restructuring of our macrosystemic value systems. Rejecting metrics such as GDP, Efficiency and Bigness, this book proposes instead an ecogenerist theory that asks whether our policies and politics foster environments in which children and families can flourish. It proposes, as a benchmark, the family supportive human rights principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The author uses stories from actual children’s lives, in both small and urban settings, to explore the ecology of childhood and illustrate children’s rights principles in action. The book closes by highlighting ways individuals can work at the local and regional levels to create more just and sustainable worlds that are truly fit for children.