Research

 

You will find a complete range of our monographs, muti-authored and edited works including peer-reviewed, original scholarly research across the social sciences and aligned disciplines. We publish long and short form research and you can browse the complete Bristol University Press and Policy Press archive of over 1,500 titles.

Policy Press also publishes policy reviews and polemic work which aim to challenge policy and practice in certain fields. These books have a practitioner in mind and are practical, accessible in style, as well as being academically sound and referenced.
 

Books: Research

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Unaccompanied children on the move have featured prominently in global politics, with significant implications for those children and for potential host countries. In 2015–2016, growing numbers of asylum applications in Europe coincided with increased attention to this cohort and their political significance. Engaging with literature on unaccompanied migrant children and their perceived impacts on host societies, we apply discourse analysis to examine unaccompanied children’s representation in UK parliamentary debates during this period, when public concerns regarding children on the move increased alongside major related political debates in Europe, including the Brexit decision in mid-2016. Considering data accessed via Hansard, we report on key findings and implications for understandings of migrant children, their roles in global politics, and perceptions of childhood. We pay special attention to the overlap and clash of discourses, including those expressing concern for children’s security or focusing on these children as potential security threats.

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Children migrate alone, creating tension between a child rights approach and global migration governance. States cannot deny children’s rights because it would be an immoral violation of international law, yet states adopt different strategies to control child migration. This chapter briefly discusses two such strategies: using different representations of children like ‘anchor children and babies’ as a migration strategy to restrict children’s rights, and employing the ‘imposter children’ category to recognize agency as an adulthood characteristic. Both strategies draw from a discourse of protection from harm and children’s rights to restrict their rights to asylum, family reunification, recognition as a child, and their best interests. This chapter illustrates these strategies, considering how politicians and the media dealt with recent migration situations, mostly in Global North countries. These critical reflections contribute to understanding how states strategically employ specific representations of children in migration and border control.

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Too often, governments and international institutions engage children and young people through rhetoric alone. Facing climate crisis, children and young people globally find themselves at the centre of liberal policy and advocacy spaces, thanks to their own mobilization and their moral position as those most impacted by current and future ecological catastrophes and their socio-political consequences. This chapter identifies how neoliberal institutions have foregrounded children and young people as global political actors in the climate crisis, often co-opting their participation for their own aims. Such institutions highlight the nexus of education and climate action while prioritizing a narrative that discounts the root causes of climate injustice and the possible solutions, often coming from marginalized voices. Using first-hand knowledge of the potential of ‘transformative education’ in (re)making global political worlds, we argue for the importance of creating a critical education approach and praxis that will inform current and future climate action.

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This chapter uses toys licensed by the UK’s Ministry of Defence to explore intersections of militarism and childhood, and the interplay between domination and resistance discourses. Promising to ‘transport kids into the adventurous world of military manoeuvres’, the brand arguably demonstrates an ideologically charged form of militarism. However, we consider the role of children’s play in co-constituting cultures of everyday militarism, addressing the toy not merely as a power-laden text to be ‘read’ for its ideological meaning but also as something that children engage with on an embodied level. This advances arguments about children’s ability to enact agency and resistance. Academics and public discourse have only recently considered children as meaningful political actors (Beier, 2015), partly because of the definition and understanding of political acts, specifically resistance (Hughes, 2020). Instead of conceiving resistance only as intentional, with pre-determined goals, paying attention to children playing with war toys becomes a means of thinking differently about their political agency and ability to enact resistance.

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Though children have never been absent from international studies discourse, they are too often reduced to a few simplistic and unidimensional framings. This book seeks to recover children’s agency and to recognise the complex variety of childhoods and the global issues that affect them. Written by an international list of contributors from Europe, Africa, North America and Australasia, chapters present highly nuanced accounts of children and childhoods across global political time and space split into three broad sections: imagined childhoods, governed childhoods and lived childhoods.

Through its analysis, the book demonstrates how IR is, somewhat paradoxically, quite deeply invested in a particular rendering of childhood as, primarily, a time of innocence, vulnerability and incapacity.

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Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine stunned the world with its brutal violence against civilians, including children, yet the conflict had already claimed 14,000 lives and profoundly affected Ukraine’s youngest generation. Utilizing ethnographic data, we explore how wartime mobilization and direct violence transformed children’s lived experiences during 2014–2022. As violence restricted important childhood development activities, other expressions became more influential. Ukrainian children’s art programmes reveal a pervasive militarization before 2022. We examine children’s roles and representations as adult actions shaped their developing conceptions of ‘normal’ while incentivizing them to reproduce militarization within prevailing social frameworks. Narrowing the boundaries of acceptable conflict interpretations and encouraging children to reproduce adult-generated conflict narratives, the programmes impede children’s agency but simultaneously provide spaces for agency and resistance to emerge in their reflections and representations. We theorize about children’s agency in global politics, exploring intersections with militarism, structural and direct violence, and security paradigms.

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Children, whether or not viewed as such, play an increasingly central role in conflict as violent and non-violent activists and perpetrators of violent acts. At times, they volunteer or are coerced into conducting suicide missions. Acting as ‘lone wolves’ without training or lethal weapons, they are not a threat to soldiers or armed security guards. However, once they are labelled as ‘violent activists’ or ‘terrorists’, they become invisible as children and can be targeted and killed regardless of age and whether they pose a real threat. Examining the participation of Palestinian children and youth during the so-called ‘knife’ or ‘children’s intifada’ beginning in 2015, this article examines the nature of violence enacted by children, how they came to be viewed, and the impact. The chapter seeks to contribute to the understanding of the realities and the perceptions of the children in violent conflict, and justifications for their violent engagement and frequent demise.

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How are children and young people made sense of and acted upon in the politics of global health? How do children and young people interpret, resist and engage with the discourses, policies and sites populated by established, institutionalized global health actors? This contribution takes stock and critically interrogates the state of research on childhood and youth in the politics of global health. It contrasts the dearth of academic engagement with the place of young people in global (health) governance with the manifold forms of institutionalized participation that has proliferated in international institutions in recent years. We perform a systematic review of global health scholarship across pertinent academic outlets, epistemological and disciplinary divides and find that the political agency and representation of children and youth in global health politics has not been systematically, or comprehensively researched. Thereafter, we map youth representation in global health empirically, pointing to its varied institutionalized forms and the involvement of both public and private, adult and youth-led organizations. Our chapter highlights the contestation surrounding both the notions of ‘child’ and ‘youth’ and the indeterminate boundaries between these two identities. We also show that despite strong normative commitments to making children and youth heard, the emerging institutional ecology surrounding young people’s engagement in global health is marked by a strong presence of youth while children are largely at the margins. At the same time, even youth representation in global health is characterized by homogenous depoliticized discourses that often do not perceive of young people as competent political actors in the present. The concluding section of our chapter proposes new avenues for research into the political representation of children and young people in this global policy field.

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The conflict stories of children are integral to meaningful reconciliation following violence. Increasingly, children’s stories and their identities have come to reflect a broader peace narrative within transitional justice. Yet often the participation of children is retold and shared through mechanisms that are inaccessible and disconnected from their reconciliation experiences. As such, children’s interactions with reconciliation practices are often static, heavily mediated and unresponsive, particularly when their stories are used as symbols for a political agenda. Only three Truth and Reconciliation Commissions (TRCs) – Canada, Sierra Leone, and Timor-Leste – have created accessible conflict narrative reports that facilitate children’s political engagement in reconciliation. This chapter considers the role of child-friendly reports in delivering reconciliation processes that recognize children as political actors rather than embodiments of peace. It argues that TRCs have an obligation to produce accessible reports that fulfil the state’s obligation to children as citizens. By normalizing accessible reporting standards, opportunities are created for inclusive international processes with not for children even beyond the reconciliation space.

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Childhoods intersect global political life in myriad ways, and children have always been important and effectual social agents. Though children have never been absent from international studies discourse, they are too often reduced to a few simplistic and unidimensional framings. Critical interventions of recent years have begun to work towards the recovery of children’s agency and to sketch the complex heterogeneity of childhoods. At the same time, there is an increasing global awareness of pressing issues of insecurity, rights, and exploitation affecting children in contexts such as conflict, migration, labour, and climate change. Building from these insights, contributors to Children, Childhoods, and Global Politics seek to recover children’s agency and to recognize the complex variety of childhoods and the global issues that affect them. Through its analysis, the book also demonstrates how disciplinary International Relations is, somewhat paradoxically, quite deeply invested in a particular rendering of childhood as, primarily, a time of innocence, vulnerability, and incapacity. Written by an international list of contributors from Europe, Africa, the Americas, and Australasia, the chapters present highly nuanced accounts of children and childhoods across global political time and space across three thematic sections: imagined childhoods, governed childhoods, and lived childhoods.

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