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Examine the strengths and limitations of the anthropological approach in understanding modern childhood across the world.



Examine the strengths and limitations of the anthropological approach in understanding modern childhood across the world.

Relevant materials

The main sources for this assignment will be:

Montgomery, H. (2013) "Childhood: an anthropological approach", in Kehily, M.J. (ed.) (2013) Understanding childhood: a cross-disciplinary approach. Bristol, Policy Press/Milton Keynes, The Open University.

Hammersley, M. (2013) "How is knowledge about childhood produced? The issue of methodology"

Suggested approach

Throughout the module, Part B of each TMA will ask you to answer an essay question using the knowledge you have developed over the block. You may well have experience of writing academic essays in previous study, but you should also review advice in the E212 Assessment Guide, as expectations between modules differ. It is worth taking some time to plan out your answer, as this should help you in providing an introduction, conclusion and logical argument.

For this TMA, you will need to briefly outline the main distinctive features of the anthropological approach to studying children and childhood. You will then need to consider the strengths of this approach in understanding children`s lives today. How might studying different cultural views of childhood help us understand childhood in the modern world? You may want to consider the development of anthropology, and evaluate the ways in which the work of key theorists and researchers has contributed to an understanding of childhood.

You should also consider potential limitations to using anthropology as a way of understanding childhood. This may include critiques that have been made of anthropology as a discipline, such as its ethnocentrism (the idea that European, minority world culture is superior to other cultures), and criticisms of particularly influential anthropologists. You may find chapter 6 useful in considering these questions of how childhood can be studied and understood.

Although the main focus of this question is the anthropological approach, you may find it useful to bring other approaches you have studied in this block (such as the developmental or sociocultural approach) into your answer for comparison. Are there aspects of childhood they can help us understand that the anthropological approach cannot?

A good answer will keep focussed on the specific question, rather than discussing the general topic area, and follow a clear and logical structure. It will show your tutor that you understand the key ideas relevant to the module, by expressing them in your own words. Each of your key points should be supported by evidence or examples from the module – for instance, the findings from a relevant study, ideas from academics, or children’s voices – which should be referenced. It should also be written clearly: you can work on this by using a spelling and grammar checker, and making sure to proofread your work. Good answers will include critical analysis, which involves evaluating the strengths of particular arguments, and using module material to make relevant points, rather than simply describing it.
Include in-text references to relevant material, and at the end add a list of references in OU Harvard style.


Please could you use references from the anthropological approach, as well the social-cultural approach:

Some included in the course are:

Baker, R., Panter-Brick, C. and Todd, A. (1996) ‘Methods used in research with street children in Nepal’, Childhood, vol. 3, no. 2, pp. 171–93.

Corsaro, W. (1996) ‘Transitions in early childhood: the promise of comparative, longitudinal, ethnography’ in Jessor, R., Colby, A. and Shweder, R. (eds) Ethnography and Human Development, Chicago, IL, University of Chicago Press.

Corsaro, W. (2003) ‘We’re Friends, Right?’: Inside Kids’ Culture, Washington, DC, Joseph Henry Press.

Corsaro, W. (2005) The Sociology of Childhood, 2nd edn, Thousand Oaks, CA, Pine Forge.

Hecht, T. (1998) At Home in the Street: Street Children of Northeast Brazil, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Giddens, A. (1976) The New Rules of Sociological Method, London, Hutchinson.

Prout, A. and James, A. (1997) ‘A new paradigm for the sociology of childhood? Provenance, promise and problems’, in James, A. and Prout, A. (eds) Constructing and Reconstructing Childhood: Contemporary Issues in the Sociological Study of Childhood, London, Falmer Press.


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  • Title: Examine the strengths and limitations of the anthropological approach in understanding modern childhood across the world.
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  • Post Date: 2018-11-06T10:23:57+00:00
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