Childhood as ‘risky’ and life as ‘skills’
This chapter presents a critical sociological study of ‘life skills education’ (LSE) – a form of psycho-educational programme considered important to prepare children positively for life and prevent ‘risks’. Much literature on LSE is already available from a developmental and educational perspective. This literature has largely focused on the scientific evidence base for LSE and its role in preparing children to stay on a trajectory of growth and development. In contrast, the chapter makes a significant departure from this literature, questioning the assumption that these programmes are based upon certain universal, ontological principles of development. Adopting a genealogical approach, it demonstrates how some of the rationalities that inform the programmes have emerged within specific socio-political and material contexts. Using a combination of ethnography and Foucauldian Discourse Analysis (FDA), its shows how life skill programmes link conceptions of positive child development with the neoliberal ethos of the ‘responsibilised’ citizen and middle-class ideas about development and progress.