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Recovering Childhood: Play, Pedagogy, and the Rise of Psychological Knowledge in Contemporary Urban China

Orna Naftali
Modern China
Vol. 36, No. 6 (November 2010), pp. 589-616
Published by: Sage Publications, Inc.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25759531
Page Count: 28
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Recovering Childhood: Play, Pedagogy, and the Rise of Psychological Knowledge in Contemporary Urban China
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Abstract

In the past few decades, China has witnessed the emergence of a psychological discourse of childhood. This new discourse portrays children as persons with unique emotional needs and seeks to redefine childhood as a time of play and relaxation rather than study or toil. Drawing on the results of ethnographic fieldwork in Shanghai's schools and homes in 2004–2005, the present article describes the complex ways Shanghai's teachers and parents engage with this normalizing, developmental discourse. It argues that the rise of a psychological discourse of childhood signals a shift in Chinese modes of governing school and family life, and in current conceptualizations of the child-as-citizen and the child-as-subject in postsocialist, urban China.

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