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Childhood and Child Agency in Kyrgyzstan 3 rd ISCI Conference University of York 27-29 July 2011 Saltanat Rasulova, DPhil Candidate University of Oxford.

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Presentation on theme: "Childhood and Child Agency in Kyrgyzstan 3 rd ISCI Conference University of York 27-29 July 2011 Saltanat Rasulova, DPhil Candidate University of Oxford."— Presentation transcript:

1 Childhood and Child Agency in Kyrgyzstan 3 rd ISCI Conference University of York July 2011 Saltanat Rasulova, DPhil Candidate University of Oxford

2 Childhood and agency in Kyrgyzstan: Research objective To develop an understanding of child agency from the perspective of children and explore how children exert their agency in a specific socio economic and cultural environment A house with children is a field of flowers; a house without them is a desert - Kyrgyz proverb

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4 National context: Kyrgyzstan 37% of population is aged 0-17 years High poverty and especially child poverty

5 National context: Kyrgyzstan Long time transition to market economy after collapse of the Soviet Union 2 revolutions since 2005 resulted in a change of the political leadership Weak governance

6 Literature review Active agents and not passive subjects of social structures and processes. (James et al., 1998: 207) doers and thinkers (Robson et al. 2007) …simultaneously both dependents and agents (Robson et al. 2007) bounded agency (Evans and Heinz, 2007) …needs to be understood in the context …of dependence on, and submission to, the authority of adults (Redmond, 2009)

7 Literature review Active agents but are constrained by their economic conditions which affect their capacity to exercise their agency (Ridge, 2002) a constraint and a facilitator, as children adapt to manage the constraints of economic disadvantage (Redmond, 2009) thinners as children have to make decisions and take actions in a highly restrictive context with few alternatives (Klocker, 2007)

8 Qualitative Research design Children (boys and girls, aged 12 and 16, state and private schools in the capital city): Group discussions Diaries, drawings, vignettes, observations 40 semi-structured interviews Parents/carers Group discussions/interviews Analysis of Kyrgyz proverbs

9 Differences between state and private schools Socioeconomic backgrounds of families and children Neighbourhoods and infrastructure Quality of education: curriculum and staff School fees School dinners

10 PRELIMINARY FINDINGS GIRLS AND BOYS AGED 16

11 Socioeconomic divisions and child agency - state school Material disadvantages are not necessarily a source of unhappiness, low aspirations, less agency, inconfidence Children exert other regarding agency towards parents and siblings e.g. support, care, less pressure, paid work, domestic chores, Able to act in problem solving ways Earning and helping do not make children seen as more agentic - it is culturally expected

12 Socioeconomic divisions and child agency - private school More personal problems resulting from competing with siblings, peers, conflicts with parents. Changing roles of children (less domestic chores, contacts with extended families, time with siblings) School (learning) is the only main defining feature of childhood, children are more agentic at learning AMore considered as becoming than being

13 Culture and child agency Age as a structural factor of power&authority The eldest can rule the young. But the youngest cannot command the elder one Fathers and sons relationships: If my father says something, I must do it, no one can change it. Adult regulation of children at home and school – different spatial agency identities When my father comes home, I feel myself an adult. My father is strict, and he does not like childish behaviour

14 Some emerging trends Different child agency is emerging among rich and poor in the traditionally hierarchical Kyrgyz society Poor children and their families are more prepared for current changes, the rich for future prosperity The new sociology of childhood is (partially) not applicable for Kyrgyz Culture as freedom and reason for agency


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