Children as Full Human Beings: A Radical Rethinking of Social and Political Transformation Beyond Domination, Oppression, and Capitalist Exploitation
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This dissertation examines the general paternalist prejudice against children. It highlights the generational blind spot within critical theory and its failure to engage with the power dynamics between adults and children and how this contributes to a political culture based on domination and exploitation. The dissertations main argument is that reclaiming childrens full humanity must be the cornerstone of any emancipatory political agenda. The dissertation focuses on the conception of childhood that came with the transition to capitalism within liberal societies. The liberal conception of children is best exemplified by John Locke through its defence of paternalism and capitalist property relations. The dissertation demonstrates how parentchild relations in capitalist society are not rooted in natural inclinations or biology but rather are a political construction to reproduce the unequal property relations of a system based on domination, oppression, and exploitation. The dissertation stresses the dehumanizing aspects of the doctrine of socialization and of the mandatory schooling system that consolidates the liberal institution of children. By drawing on First Nations political thinking and the unschooling/self-directed learning movement, the dissertation offers a glimpse of the possibilities of a genuinely emancipating parenting and educative paradigm on which social justice can be built.