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Are Children Human Beings or Human Becomings? A Critical Assessment of Outcome Thinking



    (NTNU Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Trondheim)


The section presents a critical assessment of so-called outcome or displacement perspectives. Common to them is a preference – under the pretext of showing interest for children – for looking forward to adulthood. This was characteristic for psychology and has recently obtained focus by prominent economists and politicians: being basically preoccupied with future productivity among adults they appear to have found its secret in childhood-investments. As such it is a worthy cause. Its potential drawback is that investments do not produce the desired «outcome» and thus the critical question is raised, if politicians are ready to continue investments that «merely» favour children? Since 1980s a new sociology of childhood has been critical to these forward-looking perspectives and insisted that children’s welfare is significant enough in itself as an investment object and needs no instrumentalising arguments to be justified, for instance in terms of future profitability.

Suggested Citation

  • Jens QVORTRUP, 2009. "Are Children Human Beings or Human Becomings? A Critical Assessment of Outcome Thinking," Rivista Internazionale di Scienze Sociali, Vita e Pensiero, Pubblicazioni dell'Universita' Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, vol. 117(3), pages 631-654.
  • Handle: RePEc:vep:journl:y:2009:v:117:i:3:p:631-654

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    Children; Childhood; Outcome; Displacement; Investments; Human capital; Economy; Sociology; Corporal punishments; Generations; Win; Lose;

    JEL classification:

    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity


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