In this ground-breaking book, Alan Prout discusses the place of children and childhood in modern society. He critically examines 'the new social studies of childhood', reconsidering some of its key assumptions and positions and arguing that childhood is heterogeneous and complex. The study of childhood requires a broad set of intellectual resources and an interdisciplinary approach. Chapters include: * the changing social and cultural character of contemporary childhood and the weakening boundary between adulthood and childhood * a look back at the emergence of childhood studies in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries * the nature/culture dichotomy * the role of material artefacts and technologies in the construction of contemporary childhood. This book is essential reading for students and academics in the field of childhood studies, sociology and education.