More learning, less activism: narratives of childhood in Australian media representations of the School Strike for Climate

Alexander, Nita, Petray, Theresa, and McDowall, Ailie (2022) More learning, less activism: narratives of childhood in Australian media representations of the School Strike for Climate. Australian Journal of Environmental Education, 38 (1). pp. 96-111.

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The School Strike for Climate campaign led to public discussion about children’s political participation. Children are generally excluded from formal political systems, however this campaign challenges mainstream attitudes that children are not sufficiently competent to participate in politics. This paper presents an analysis of Australian mainstream media representations of adult responses to the School Strike for Climate events held in Australia in March 2019. When analysed against theories of childhood, two primary narratives are reflected in what adults said about children’s participation in the campaign. Anticipatory narratives focus on children appropriately developing into adults, and are represented by the notion that strikers should be in school, be punished for missing school, and are ‘just kids’ who should not be listened to. Protectionist narratives seek to shelter children from adult matters, suggesting strikers were brainwashed and raising welfare concerns. Neither of these narratives regard children as citizens capable of political voice, despite these children acting prefiguratively to create a world in which their civic participation is valued. Social movement theories of prefiguration are also explored in this paper, providing a counter argument to suggestions that children have no political agency and should be excluded from activism and discussions regarding climate change.

Item ID: 71027
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 0814-0626
Copyright Information: © The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press. Accepted version may be made open access under a CC BY-NC-ND license in an Institutional Repository without embargo.
Funders: Douglas Fry Bursary, James Cook University (JCU)
Date Deposited: 09 Feb 2022 00:47
FoR Codes: 44 HUMAN SOCIETY > 4410 Sociology > 441004 Social change @ 70%
39 EDUCATION > 3901 Curriculum and pedagogy > 390105 Environmental education curriculum and pedagogy @ 30%
SEO Codes: 16 EDUCATION AND TRAINING > 1602 Schools and learning environments > 160299 Schools and learning environments not elsewhere classified @ 50%
19 ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY, CLIMATE CHANGE AND NATURAL HAZARDS > 1902 Environmental policy, legislation and standards > 190203 Environmental education and awareness @ 50%
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