How are values (of children) made?
I am interested in the making of values as a social practice. How do things come to be considered important, precious, priceless or worth our concerns? In the Global North, including Sweden, children themselves, what they do and produce are often constructed by various institutions to be all of the above. Rather than subscribing to the seemingly self-evident values of children, I ask how they come into being, are produced and sustained, negotiated and dismissed.
To explore the making of values in my doctoral thesis I take a deep dive into an empirical case: a charitable campaign organised as a partnership between a business and a children’s charitable organisation. The campaign, marketed as an enterprise where children give to other children, encourages many questions about children’s charity today. Who gives what and to whom? How charitable causes come into being as societal concerns? What makes this case a particularly interesting matter for interrogating values is that it allows to study values that are commonly considered to be in opposition to or in conflict with one another. For-profit and non-profit; creativity and mass-produced commodities; money and morals – what roles do these entities play in the ways of valuing children?
I approach these questions analytically by drawing on and from the interdisciplinary Child Studies, and Valuation Studies that shares many sensibilities with Science and Technology Studies (STS). The combination of these two fields allows to unsettle the taken-for-granted values and norms, and contribute to understanding of how children are valued in practice.