X-children and the militarisation of everyday life: Comparative comments on the politics of youth, victimage and violence in transitional societies

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Based on ethnographic fieldwork in Northern Ireland and South Africa, this paper contends that the so-called 'children of violence' are perceived in terms of the serious cultural contradictions of the adult world and rarely in their own terms. Does the concept and norm of childhood give us permission to give violence a defining site of origination? Does childhood have a discursive function similar to penal incarceration as a limit-category of social abuse or caretaking by which society as a whole can be measured? If so, it is not surprising that children and youth are not merely conceptualised as victims of the pathological, but they become pathogenic as well. They are not only a vulnerable target of violence and aggression, but are reciprocally positioned: as authors of violence bearing the unmediated social horrors of the past; as suspect actors in the present; and as potential aggressors in the future. If childhood is good to think about these days, what does it really allow us to think about?

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)286-299
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Social Welfare
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2002



  • Children
  • Northern Ireland
  • Political violence
  • Social memory
  • South Africa
  • Transitional societies
  • Youth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

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