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Embodying 'the next generation': Children’s everyday environmental activism in India and England

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Catherine WalkerORCiD


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The symbolic evocation of ‘the next generation’ might be considered as valuable in buttressing calls for concerted public and political action on climate change, whilst assigning to children a unique identity and role in engendering sustainable transitions. Yet does an identity that is in essence equated with futurity stifle possibilities for children’s own actions in the present, and conflict with policy expectations that children can be ‘agents of (pro-environmental) change’? Drawing on multi-method doctoral research carried out with children (aged 11–14) and their families in varying socio-economic contexts in India and England, this paper considers the use and utility of generational identities in prompting environmental concern and explores how generationally framed imaginaries of childhood feature in children’s and family narratives of everyday environmental activism. Building on theoretical arguments of generational interdependence and ethics of care, the paper argues for greater recognition of children’s actual and potential contributions to engendering sustainable futures, whilst drawing attention to the ways in which children’s agency to act on environmental knowledge is supported by – and interdependent with – that of adult actors, not least parents.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Walker C

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Contemporary Social Science

Year: 2017

Volume: 12

Issue: 1-2

Pages: 13-26

Print publication date: 01/02/2018

Online publication date: 24/05/2017

Acceptance date: 26/04/2017

ISSN (print): 2158-2041

ISSN (electronic): 2158-205X

Publisher: Routledge


DOI: 10.1080/21582041.2017.1325922


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