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The Study of Children in ReligionsA Methods Handbook$
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Susan B. Ridgely

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780814776469

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814776469.001.0001

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Agency, Voice, and Maturity in Children’s Religious and Spiritual Development

Agency, Voice, and Maturity in Children’s Religious and Spiritual Development

(p.19) 1 Agency, Voice, and Maturity in Children’s Religious and Spiritual Development
The Study of Children in Religions

Chris Boyatzis

NYU Press

This chapter explores the scholarship regarding a further understanding of a child's agency, voice, and maturity in discussing spiritual matters. It argues that the dominance of cognitive-developmentalism and stage theory has impeded our understanding of religious and spiritual growth and subsequently our ability to impute to children agency, voice, and maturity. However, the chapter likewise outlines some changes and advances in our understanding of children, focusing mainly on recent views of children as thinkers and as active participants in family interaction and communication about religious issues. This chapter moves further by providing suggestions of how to move forward methodologically to better understand children's agency, voice, and maturity. Doing so will help us better reconcile the complex tension between thinking of children as full-fledged “beings” or young and immature “becomings.”

Keywords:   children's agency, children's voice, maturity, cognitive-developmentalism, stage theory, religious issues

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