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Institute of Education

Research Center "Historical and Comparative Childhood and Youth Studies"

Mädchen mit Hase

Source: Hermann-Kaulbach-Bilderbuch, Stuttgart 1917, p. 65


For the last decades, the so-called sociology of childhood and youth has developed and popularized a particular view of childhood and youth. In this perspective, childhood and youth are understood as social and cultural phenomena, that is, as something that comes about through social structuring, negotiation, and attribution of meaning. Such structuring, negotiations, and attributions of meaning are by no means constant; rather, they change over time. Accordingly, childhood and youth are also to be seen as something changeable. Based on this premise, in recent years especially childhood history, and to a lesser extent also youth history, has developed as an interdisciplinary field of research.

The research center is embedded in this larger research context, which can also be called the cultural history of childhood and youth. The focus of interest is not only a temporally but also spatially comparative analysis of childhood and youth. That is, an analysis that takes a longer period into consideration and that asks about transnational interconnections and circulation of knowledge.

A special thematic focus is on theories, concepts, and notions of “a/normality”, which have become increasingly important in the context of education and schooling since the mid-19th century at the latest. Special and social education programs and institutions that were established and expanded in addition to mainstream schools, debates about the educability of “abnormal” children and adolescents, as well as concepts and categories that were created over time to describe and classify these children and adolescents are examined. In connection with this, questions of social and educational exclusion/inclusion are also addressed.