The need to build links between FLP and childhood studies research

This week, I published an article in the journal Children & Society.  This was my first time publishing outside of socio-/applied linguistics journals and I learned a lot in the process.

First and foremost, I learned how much childhood studies had to offer ‘Family Language Policy’ (FLP) research, and how there are many synergies between the two fields.  This is particularly true I feel when it comes to discussing child agency, a topic which has long been an interest of mine.  As I say in the article, I am quite embarrassed that in writing a chapter on child agency in the Handbook of Home Language Maintenance: Social and Affective Factors (ed. Andrea C. Schalley and Susana A. Eisenchlas; De Gruyter Mouton, 2020), I neglected to look further afield than applied linguistics and developmental psychology in exploring child agency. There is much that childhood studies has to offer FLP in terms of theory and in turn, I feel that FLP has much to offer in terms of concrete ways to apply theoretical constructs.

Writing this article for Children & Society gave me an opportunity to re-visit the model I developed for the Handbook. After delving into the childhood studies literature on child agency, I refined my model. I still see the model as an evolving process, but I think that for the moment, it encapsulates the main questions I encountered when thinking about how child agency comes to fruition in everyday family interactions.  To illustrate the interrelated nature of the model, I analysed two conversational excerpts from the LaFS data and as I also say in the article, I hope that this article helps open a dialogue between FLP and childhood studies—it’s far overdue. Here’s the link to the article (available open access):

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