Reconciling Childhood and Youth Studies and developmental psychology

Montgomery, Heather and Tatlow-Golden, Mimi (2018). Reconciling Childhood and Youth Studies and developmental psychology. In: Montgomery, Heather and Robb, Martin eds. Children and young people's worlds. Bristol: Policy Press, pp. 7–24.


This chapter will discuss the sometimes fractious relationship between Childhood and Youth Studies (CYS) and developmental psychology, as well as the tentative steps being made to reconcile certain aspects of the two fields. Both have, at their centre, a desire to understand children and young people’s internal and external worlds and yet they have very different methods for doing so and very different ideologies. Neither is ‘right’ and neither presents a perfect paradigm for understanding children’s lives. Furthermore, psychology today is such a broad term, encompassing everything from social and cultural psychology to neuroscience, that to criticise ‘developmental psychology’ as if it were a uniform discipline is highly problematic. It is our contention in this chapter that both disciplines can usefully inform knowledge about children and young people’s experiences and that while there are tensions and debates between them, there can also be synergies and scope for collaboration.This is important because these debates at an academic or theoretical level influence the social policies and practices that affect children and young people’s lives: how children are understood has a bearing on how they are treated.

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