chapter  6
13 Pages

The discursive production of childhood, identity and health

ByLISETTE BURROWS, JAN WRIGHT

Contemporary critical psychological and post-structural theorists (Baker 2001; Dahlberg et al. 1999; Malaguzzi 1993; Morss 1996; Sloan Canella 1997; Weedon 1997; Wyn and White 1997) write about childhood as a relational concept, that is, our ways of thinking about concepts like childhood and identity are ‘constructed and reconstructed within specific contexts – contexts which are always open for change and where the meaning of what children are, could be, and should be cannot be established once and for all’ (Dahlberg et al. 1999: 57). From this point of view, what being a child means is repeatedly being renegotiated in relation to a range of other people (for example, parents, teachers, peers) in their lives and in relation to institutional and cultural discourses. In this chapter, we draw on this approach to examine how childhood is currently being constructed and reconstructed in relation to corporeal discourses that define the healthy child. We are particularly interested in the ways this knowledge, as produced in the popular media, medical and public health knowledge, is taken up in schools and initial teacher training in physical education (ITTPE) to fashion particular policies and practices applied in the best interests of children’s health and well-being.