Barndomen och den sociala moderniseringen : om att växa upp i Norden på tröskeln till ett nytt millenium

Sammanfattning: The purpose of this study is to investigate the context of modern childhood in the Nordic countries, and to some extent in the Western world as well. The study may be divided into two approximately equal sections. The first, the theory section, lays out a theoretical and conceptual framework considered necessary for a meaningful representation of modern childhood as a cultural and historical construct. The second section contains a presentation of research findings from the so-called Basun Study, a study on modern childhood in the five Nordic countries of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden, The sample, analysed in this thesis consisted of 87 five year-old children living in their families of origin. All the families represented a modern lifestyle in the sense that both parents were in paid employment, and the children attended out-of-home daycare. In the thesis, the everyday life of the children and their families is described and analysed from several analytical angles. Thus, the division of roles in the family (including the roles of the child) is studied, and some implications for the modern family life's split between different social settings (home, school or preschool, and the parental work places) are dwelt upon, especially the time constraints this split places upon the family. An analysis of the parent-child social interactions indicates that time related issues, such as the timing of everyday events and the tempo of daily chores, are common sources of conflicts. The everyday situations, carrying the biggest conflict potential are the domestic morning preparations, the home-to-daycare transition and leaving daycare in the afternoon. It is argued that it is especially in everyday situations like these that children are expected to adapt their biological time rhythms with social time, and furthermore that these situations strengthen their notion of time as a limited resource that needs to be controlled and maximised. Tangible socialising efforts to this end are more common among the Basun sample's middle-class parents than among their working class counterparts. Although time-related demands often invite conflicts, parents almost invariably employ different kinds of strategies in order to avoid conflicts with their children. Thus, the parents strongly convey the notion that family life should be relaxed and enjoyable. On the whole, the parents are so successful in these efforts that the children, in general, live a rather relaxed everyday life. However, it is tight everyday schedules and the resulting fatigue. A core idea, underlying the theoretical section of this thesis, is that in order to gain a deeper understanding of modern childhood, it has to be studied not only in the present, but in the past as well. In other words, the conditions of childhood must be viewed within the framework of contemporary everyday life as well as against the background of history. The historical perspective suggests two things. Firstly, that contemporary childhood must be seen against the backdrop of childhood conditions of earlier generations and secondly, that salient features of the social modernisation process should be identified and projected on the everyday social interactions of children and their parents. As a consequence, the study of modern childhood carried out in this thesis is eclectic, integrating theoretical insights from disciplines as diverse as psychology, pedagogy, history, and sociology.