Professor Alan Prout
Professor of Sociology and Childhood Studies
I joined the University of Leeds in July 2013 as a part-time member of staff. I have worked in the sociology of childhood for many years and held appointments at the universities of Cambridge, Keele, Hull, Stirling and Warwick. I was Director of the ESRC “Children 5-16 Research Programme” and am author of numerous books and papers in the social study of childhood. I join the Childhood and Inclusive Education team but also have a wider remit for developing research and scholarship in the School.
Although I have also contributed to the sociology of health and illness, my main work has been in the sociology of childhood. I have contributed key theoretical texts to the field such as Constructing and Reconstructing Childhood, Theorizing Childhood and The Future of Childhood and empirical studies of childhood sickness, family health practices, childhood asthma, participation in public services and children’s use of e-toys.
My focus will be on assisting Professor Christensen in the development and delivery of an MA in Childhood Studies.
Many aspects of childhood and schooling-related topics that intersect with understanding children in their wider social context.
(2005) The Future of Childhood. Routledge.
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(2013) “Space for play?: Families' strategies for organizing domestic space in homes with young children”, Home Cultures. 10.2: 135-158.
This article discusses how children, toys, and play are accommodated in the spaces of the contemporary home in order to highlight the often overlooked connections between home as an imaginative space and housing as a physical location in which people reside. We do this by exploring how families in private, new-build homes in contemporary Scotland reconfigure domestic space through the creation of a new kind of internal domestic space-the "toy room." Analysis leads to a consideration of how the rules and routines of homemaking join people, places, and things together or deliberately separate them out. We conclude that the emergence of the toy room is an improvised solution to a problem exacerbated by the growth of children's consumption of toys and playthings, shrinking room size, limited flexibility of the available space, and the shortage of storage in new-build homes, as well as a domestic aesthetic ideal adverse to clutter. © BLOOMSBURY PUBLISHING PLC 2013.
(2012) “User Involvement in Public Services: 'Choice about Voice'”, Public Policy and Administration. 27.1: 3-29.
Processes of involvement and representation are particularly important in UK public services if users' interests are adequately to be taken into account. Yet there are several different, sometimes competing ways for users' views to be represented, and their interaction is not well understood. This article reports on research exploring these issues in relation to three public services - housing, social care and leisure services. We asked, how do public service users experience and evaluate the alternative ways in which their interests may be represented, and what factors guide their 'choice about voice'? Mechanisms available for users to express their views can be categorised as 'hierarchical' (e.g. contacting elected officials); individualistic (e.g. complaints procedures); or group-based (e.g. user forums). Users make assumptions about what channel is appropriate for particular issues in a particular context. However, their ability to communicate via their chosen channel is dependent on viable opportunities to do so. This idea of viability (or lack of it) goes beyond the simple provision of a full range of channels. It relates to the prospects of users' views being recognised and accepted - and to the sense of disconnection and withdrawal that often accompanies low expectations or disappointing experiences. © The Author(s) 2011.
(2011) “Taking a Step away from Modernity: reconsidering the new sociology of childhood”, Global Studies of Childhood. 1.1: 4-14.
ABSTRACT This article explores the conditions under which the sociology of childhood was created, suggests some of the problems encountered in this effort and points to some possible remedies. It is argued that the construction of a sociology of childhood entailed a double task. First, space had to be created for childhood within sociological discourse. Second, the increasing complexity and ambiguity of childhood as a contemporary, destabilized phenomenon had to be confronted. It is argued that, whilst a space for childhood has been created, this was accomplished largely in terms of modernist sociology, a discourse that was increasingly unable to deal adequately with the destabilized world of late modernity. An important aspect of this problem is apparent in the reproduction within the sociology of childhood of the dichotomized oppositions that characterize modernist sociology. Three of these oppositions (agency and structure, nature and culture, being and becoming) are explored. It is suggested that moving the sociology of childhood beyond the grip of such modernist thinking entails developing a strategy for ‘including the excluded middle’. Inter alia this may necessitate greater attention to the interdisciplinarity and the hybridity of childhood; being symmetrical about how childhoods are constructed; attending to the networks, flows and mediations of its production, and the co-construction of generational relations.
(2008) “Culture-Nature and the Construction of Childhood”, In: Drotner K; Livingstone S (eds.) The International Handbook of Children, Media and Culture. London: Sage.