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Punishing Childhoods: Contradictions in Children's Rights and Global Governance

Pupavac, Vanessa



The article considers efforts to eradicate corporal punishment as an aspect of the global governance of childhood and raises problems relevant to global governance more broadly. The article analyses contradictions in children’s rights advocacy between its universal human rights norms and implicit relativist development model. Children’s rights research is influenced by social constructivist theories, which highlight the history of childhood and childhood norms. Earlier social constructivist studies identified the concept of childhood underpinning the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) as a Western construction based on Western historical experiences, which excluded the experiences of childhood in developing countries. More recent social constructivist approaches emphasise how childhood norms are constructed and therefore can be reconstructed. The article outlines problems with attempts to globalise childhood norms without globalising material development. The article discusses the softening of discipline norms in Western societies historically. It indicates problems with children’s rights advocacy seeking to eradicate the corporal punishment of children globally without globalising the material conditions, which underpin the post-industrial ideal of childhood embodied in the CRC.


Pupavac, V. (2011). Punishing Childhoods: Contradictions in Children's Rights and Global Governance. Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding, 5(3), 285-312.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date 2011-09
Deposit Date Jan 31, 2012
Publicly Available Date Jan 31, 2012
Journal Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding
Print ISSN 1750-2977
Electronic ISSN 1750-2985
Publisher Routledge
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 5
Issue 3
Pages 285-312
Keywords Political Science and International Relations; Law
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This is an electronic version of an article whose final and definitive form has been published in the Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding, 5(3), 2011, 285-312, copyright Taylor & Francis; Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding is available online at:

Earlier versions were presented at the Children’s Rights Centre, Antwerp University, Belgium and the Institut Universitaire Kurt Bösch, Switzerland.


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