Recovering childhood: Play, pedagogy, and the rise of psychological knowledge in contemporary urban china

Orna Naftali*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations

Abstract

In the past few decades, China has witnessed the emergence of a psychological discourse of childhood.This new discourse portrays children as persons with unique emotional needs and seeks to redefine childhood as a time of play and relaxation rather than study or toil. Drawing on the results of ethnographic fieldwork in Shanghai's schools and homes in 2004-2005, the present article describes the complex ways Shanghai's teachers and parents engage with this normalizing, developmental discourse. It argues that the rise of a psychological discourse of childhood signals a shift in Chinese modes of governing school and family life, and in current conceptualizations of the child-as-citizen and the child-as-subject in postsocialist, urban China.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)589-616
Number of pages28
JournalModern China
Volume36
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - 2010

Keywords

  • China
  • childhood
  • education
  • psychology
  • subjectivity

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