chapter  3
26 Pages

Children's understanding of economics

Economics is often used as a label for that part of the social world concerned with the acquisition, management, and distribution of assets (e.g., buying, borrowing, bargaining, banking), and for the most part this convenient approach is taken here. But it is inevitable, given that the concept of economic behaviour is culturally and historically determined, that the boundary between the economic and the noneconomic is poorly de®ned and rather arbitrary. Hence in this book children's understanding of social class and occupations is dealt with in Chapter 7 (by Emler & Dickinson), though aspects of this topic are clearly part of economic understanding. Agonising over de®nitions has never seemed to me a useful activity, but being clear about what we mean by ``economics'' does matter: It is important not to fall into the trap, for example, of thinking that economic behaviour must involve money. Historically, plenty of economic systems have managed without money and in the modern world there are still many areas of economic activity that are not monetised (the most notable example being the domestic sphere). What this suggests is that in considering children's understanding of economics we should not only be concerned with the cash economy but also need to consider their understanding of swapping, doing chores, and gift-giving.