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Title: Child agency and economic circumstances : how does family economic status affect child agency in Kyrgyzstan's post-Soviet culture of transition?
Author: Rasulova, Saltanat Temirbekovna
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis explores how children’s experiences of childhood in Kyrgyzstan transformed after the collapse of the Soviet Union (1991) and the consequent transition to market economy. In particular it studies the interrelations of culture and economic circumstances and their effects on child agency in times of economic, social, cultural and political change which were not given enough attention in the relevant literature. I sampled 40 children (aged 12 and 16) from a state school in an underprivileged area and a prestigious private school (used as economic dividers) to study the complexity of child agency and structure in their daily lives. An ‘agency’ concept was applied as a theoretical framework conceptualised through the four components as action, freedom, purposiveness and outcome and was formulated as the setting-based ability of children to act in response to cultural and economic structures and relationships at home, school and the neighbourhood. The effects of low and high income on child agency are not straightforward due to the changing traditional culture in the Kyrgyz society, which makes agency not only a social and cultural construct, but one affected by economic conditions. The study demonstrated the nuances of child agency as freedom in high income, its conflicting purposes in low income and differentiated outcomes of short and long term wellbeing between the two groups. Economic circumstances do not only influence the dynamics of agency across settings, age and gender but challenge the very notion of the classic Western concept of agency as an independent ability to act. The findings elaborate on the concepts of the new sociology of childhood (Prout and James, 1997) and the cultural politics of childhood (James and James, 2004), as these theoretical frameworks do not account sufficiently for economic dis/advantages as a structural factor of agency, which emerges as a socially shared process of acting whose nature depends on material circumstances.
Supervisor: Walker, Robert; Bennett, Fran Sponsor: Weidenfeld Scholarship Scheme
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Children and youth ; child agency ; poverty