Whose development are we talking about? Commentary on Deconstructing Developmental Psychology

O'Dell, Lindsay (2015). Whose development are we talking about? Commentary on Deconstructing Developmental Psychology. Feminism & Psychology, 25(3) pp. 402–407.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0959353515578016

Abstract

A key theme within Deconstructing Developmental Psychology is how developmental descriptions produce particular kinds of subjects, where description provides the language and also the practices through which children are produced as subjects of concern, intervention and study. Burman argues that, “The normal child, the ideal type, distilled from the comparative scores of age-graded populations, is therefore a fiction or myth.” (Burman, 2008 p22). The production of the ‘normal’ child, and (assumed to be) universal developmental trajectory, are central to psychology as a discipline and to everyday knowledge and understanding of children. In parts of the global North government actions, such as early intervention to screen for ‘problematic behaviour’ in children and structured (often compulsory) parenting support programmes, draw on developmental science and (assumed) universal developmental pathways to underpin interventions (Holt, 2010).

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