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AbstractThroughout history, notions of what constitutes a child and defines childhood have been strongly contested. Childhood is now largely recognized as a constructed notion developed, perpetuated and contested by powerful adults who act and speak on behalf of politically and economically disenfranchised children. Wrigley (2003) argues that these adult constructions of children "necessarily involve profound questions of moral judgement that rest on implicit ideas of children's place in the social order" (p. 693). Shifts within the economic and political state itself force us to re-evaluate and re-conceptualize childhood to meet changing circumstances (Mason & Steadman, 1997). Myriad examples exist within literature to demonstrate this ongoing project of defining childhood (see for example Aries, 1962; Branscombe, Castle, Dorse~ Surbeck and Taylor, 2000i Corsaro, 1997; Hutchinson and Charlesworth, 2000; Mead and Wolfenstein, 1955). While this literature focuses on defining children and childhood, it is less overt in recognizing that through processes of defining the II other", adults are necessarily and simultaneously defining themselves. It is through this process that adults, either consciously or unconsciously; locate themselves in relation to children rather than as a mutually exclusive entity. In this paper, we present nine different constructions of childhood through which we elucidate the demands, these constructions place on children and adults in their relationships with each other. A focus on relationship, rather than a discrete focus on either the characteristics or responsibilities of children or adults, provides an additional site for psycho-social and political engagement of children with adults. This is not possible, however, if we remain unconscious of the basic underpinning constructs of this engagement.
Sorin, Reesa, and Galloway, Greta (2007) Constructions of childhood: constructions of self. In: Pati, Jagannath, (ed.) Adoption: global perspective and ethical issues. Concept Publishing, New Delhi, India, pp. 3-23.