Child Studies (TEMAB)

We conduct critical interdisciplinary research and teaching about children and childhood. By combining a child perspective and children’s perspective with high theoretical awareness and critical thinking, we are continually articulating new burning questions concerning children and childhood. 

The mission of the Department of Thematic Studies – Child Studies is to provide an environment for research and education about children and young people that is socially relevant and interdisciplinary. We focus on lived experiences as well as social, political and material conditions. Through our research, we strive to make visible and analyse problems associated with how views on children and childhood vary with time and location, using contemporary, comparative and historical perspectives. 

We study children’s and young people’s lives, conditions and agency in various social and cultural contexts, and through investigating the legislation and policies that regulate and circumscribe children. Through our interdisciplinary profile and critical perspective, we contribute to renewing and re-thinking research about children and childhood, both in Sweden and abroad.

Critical Child Studies

Through our research, we aim to question taken-for-granted values and norms relating to children and childhood. We accomplish this by conducting empirical studies, by creating understanding of children or proposing political changes for them. Right from the start, when Child Studies was established in the 1980s, a critical approach was central to how our research questions were formulated. During the 2000s, we established the concept of “critical child studies” as a vision. Today, Child Studies teaches courses in critical child studies for doctoral students, and this critical approach is fundamental to the courses taught in our international online master’s programme. Moreover, we conduct critical research on children and childhood, placing emphasis on questioning scientific theories that have become accepted and taken for granted within child and childhood research.

Child Studies 30 years: new perspectives, new pathways

In 2018, Child Studies celebrated 30 years of research drawing on a continuous flow of research topics and subjects. With 60 completed PhD theses about children and young people in practice and politics, and after several major research projects, we have established a critical approach to research on children and childhood. And we continue to ask how to think differently about children’s worlds.

A venue for child and youth researchers

Our research is characterised by its interdisciplinary approach; for example, combining theories and methods from the social sciences and humanities. With 30 years of research experience behind us, Child Studies has become an increasingly unique research environment focusing on the living conditions of children in multiple settings.

It is a privilege to be a whole unit of researchers with a shared interest in children and childhood, and this makes us an important venue for both national and international researchers. Child Studies is home to professors, senior lecturers and PhD students. We also offer an international online master’s programme in Child Studies. We teach throughout the University in such areas as the teacher training programme and social work, and we teach single-subject courses: “Listening to children”.

Four important themes in our research

  • Children and young people’s health and wellbeing
  • Children, family and parenthood
  • Children in preschool and school
  • Children, citizenship and children’s rights
  • Children, the state and the market through time and space
  • Children and disabilities
  • Children, interaction, emotions and socialization
  • Children, culture and consumption

Research Themes at Child Studies Show/Hide content

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Jonathan Josefsson, Bengt Sandin, Karl Hanson, Sarada Balagopalan (2022) Representing Children The Politics of Children’s Rights and Representation

Seminar series at Child Studies Show/Hide content

From children’s social interactions to children’s/families’ political, social and cultural importance in society 

The Department of Thematic Studies – Child Studies is united by an active seminar series that is common to all researchers in the division. The seminars engage with current research on a wide range of topics: from the social interactions of children to the political and social significance of children in society. We also invite guest speakers from among researchers with relevance to the field of research on children and young people.

The Flying Doctors

A regular feature of the seminar series is “The Flying Doctors”. On these occasions, two researchers who have recently defended their doctoral theses are invited to give a lecture on a common topic. What makes these seminars special is that the invited doctors are from different research environments than our own, and they provide an opportunity for us to keep abreast of what is new in the field of child research.

Our external seminars are open to all

For more information and to register for participation, contact Anna Sparrman at We look forward to seeing you!

Do you want to be part of our discussions?

In our seminars we present, discuss and develop texts and ideas. We hold regular workshops on different topics. We cultivate a collegial and open atmosphere while working with constructive criticism and responses to texts. Our goal is to combine passion and upright academic honesty with creativity and generosity to create a well-structured and open academic milieu.

We offer a creative research environment for visiting scholars

We encourage our guests to present ongoing research and we welcome informal research collaborations. We offer office space and a rudimentary infrastructure such as IT and library access during the visit. Visitors need to organise their own financing; some financing can be earmarked from the ERASMUS exchange programme. A visit can extend from one week to several months. Some visitors return, some multiple times.

Testimonies from earlier researchers

“I really enjoyed my visiting period at LiU, Tema Barn in 2018. The atmosphere at Tema Barn was open and welcoming and it was easy to schedule meetings and data sessions and take part in the ongoing research.”
Annukka Pursi, PhD student from Helsinki University, Educational Sciences


Conferences and defence of doctoral and licentiate theses

30 May 2022

Higher Seminar with Dr. Anna Ekström

3.30 pm – 5.00 pm Join seminar

1 June 2022

War, peace, understanding - open lecture with Yelyzaveta Hrechaniuk, Postdoc Tema Child studies

12.15 pm – 12.45 pm Lövverket (entrance level), Studenthuset, Campus Valla

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Email list

 At Child studies, there is a mailing list for people who want to know what is happening at our division. For example. you get information about seminars, workshops and other events that are open to anyone who wants to participate. Send an email to and register your interest.

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Contacts and staff at Child Studies Show/Hide content

Management team