It always feels good to take delivery of a new book that you’ve been working on. A couple of weeks ago I received my copies of the newly-published second edition of Children and young people’s worlds, a course reader that I co-edited with my Open University colleague Heather Montgomery. The book has been designed to accompany the new first stage module in the OU’s Masters in Childhood and Youth Studies, which will be welcoming its first students in September this year.
The book sets out the contexts of children’s and young people’s lives in the early twenty-first century and encourages students – and general readers – to explore their complexities. The first edition of the book, edited by Heather with Mary Kellett (now the OU’s Acting Vice Chancellor!) was produced in the very different context of the early 2000s. As we say in our introduction to the new edition, the landscape of children’s lives, and of policies affecting children and young people, as well as the scope of Childhood and Youth Studies, has changed enormously in the intervening years. In response to this, the new edition has been substantially updated in order to discuss and analyse new topics and issues that have emerged over the last ten years.
The new book, which is truly interdisciplinary, draws on insights from psychology, cultural studies, sociology, anthropology, geography and education, with each of the seventeen chapters challenging students’ assumptions and examining crucial issues in the field – including race and ethnicity, sexuality, rights, the law, disability and transnational childhoods. The list of authors includes some of the leading names in the study of childhood and youth, mostly drawn from the UK, but with some international contributors, and a determination to make the content relevant to a global as well as a domestic audience.
One of the chapters, co-written by me and my fellow researcher Sandy Ruxton, focuses on the issue of young men and gender identity, and draws on the research that we carried out in 2016-17 on young masculinity and wellbeing, as part of a three-country study led by Promundo. In the chapter, we argue that, despite important changes in gender relations and significant progress towards gender equality, the lives of many boys and young men continue to be influenced by – and to some extent constrained by – conventional norms governing what it means to be a man.
I hope that has whetted your appetite for the new book and that, if you’re a student of childhood and/or youth, or a course leader, or simply someone with a general interest in the ways that children’s and young people’s lives are changing, you’ll consider purchasing a copy.