In the first year of the twentieth century, Ellen Key wrote her book Barnets lirhulldrade. It contained a vision of a better society, expressing the hope that the twentieth century would be, as the title put it, the century of the child. Childhood was indeed to take on new meanings in the twentieth century. The overall aim of the present research project, "The Century of the Child", is to analyse how childhood has changed in the twentieth century. The project can be described as a' critical evaluation of the vision of the twentieth century as the century of the child. How was the new reality formed, and by what forces? We can outline a number of fields ofresearch where answers to these questions can be sought.
To begin with, it is necessary to elucidate on a general level the fundamental social and economic conditions and the way they have changed in the twentieth century. There is also reason to examine the new professional groups involved in looking after children; what were the consequences of their action, both in their professional organizations and in state and local administration. It also goes without saying that children's relationship to institutions of various kinds is a central issue, as is the relation between spare time and organized leisure. To understand how the concept of childhood is constructed, it is also important not only to study how the professions act but also how childhood is presented in children's literature and the media, especially in film. The commercial picture of the child is also highly important; this picture sometimes agrees with and sometimes contradicts the picture obtained from the behaviour of other political agents. It is also worth while looking at the breakthrough of new scientific views of children's development in relation both to changes outside science and to the internal development within the sciences. The research programme, however, will not concentrate on charting children's conditions in a traditional sense, but will rather focus on a number oflimited problem areas of a multidisciplinary nature.
The project will involve researchers from different disciplines, but it will have its base in the research carried on at Tema Barn in Linkbping. Tema Barn has an interdisciplinary orientation and a wide network of contacts with other research into children in Sweden. The project will run for six years. The first reports will start to appear in 1998. The final report on the entire project will come in 2000.
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 1995. , 17 p.