Child mobility, time use and social exclusion : reframing the discourses and debates.
This study asserts that the everyday life, daily activities and mobility interaction remains peripheral within the Sociology of Childhood and Mobilities in particular and sociology in general. This is not to say that there are no sociological studies on child mobility. Instead, existing studies usually focus on the impact of child mobility on adult mobility, their daily lives and schedules with children’s voices, experiences and needs remaining obscure. This generates a passive, univocal, skewed and constrained portrayal and (re)presentation of the child. These unreflected habituations have particular implications for children’s inclusion, participation, and well-being in society; and are in conflict with contemporary and global shifts in childhood and mobility studies. This dissertation, then examines the conceptualisation and problematisation of child mobility in current studies, statistics, policies and interventions, with a particular focus on South Africa. This encompasses questions about the epistemological worldview and evidence-base supporting the various policies and practices. In terms of the reification and privileging of some paradigms, Max Weber’s analysis of ‘social action’, ‘social closure’ ‘domination’ and ‘monopolization’ is appropriated and redirected. Closure (exclusion) rests on the process of subordination, whereby dominant groups close opportunities to groups it categorises as inferior, or ineligible. Children’s subordinate roles in hierarchical structures in societies are derived based on, amongst other factors, culture, age, gender and generation. These codes are used to exclude or include individuals or groups. The utility of closure theory is in the theorising of adult roles; rationalisation of adult dominance; and the limiting of children’s agency and autonomy in institutions in societies. This includes adult roles in research and policy-making communities. This suggests that we need to reflect on, re-evaluate and reframe our approach to listening, talking, thinking and writing on, and about, children. The study asserts the relevancy of the pragmatic and critical constructivist lens in mediating the paradigmatic and epistemic shifts necessary for sociological (re)engagement and reframing of the discourses and debates on child mobility. The approaches are compatible with current developments in field (s) and are important to producing sociologically relevant knowledge on and about children.