Conceptualizations of Children and Childhood in Amhara Society: A Comparative Study in the Town of Debre Markos and the Adjacent Rural Areas

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For a long period, children were not viewed as actors. This was m a inly due to the con ceptua lization of children biologically excl udin g the socio cultura l as pec ts of children. Such a pproach limited our perceptions of children as passive recipi ents of soc ial structures. This study tries to provide a compa rative a n a lysis on th e conceptualizations of children a nd childhood in the town of Debre Ma rkos (Easte rn Gojjam, Amhara region) a nd its a dj ace nt rura l areas. The data is mainly based on qua litative method by u sing various meth ods of da ta gath erin g tools s u ch as in-depth inte rview, focus group discu ssion, case studies and dia ries. According to the research results,' children of the rura l a nd urba n a reas a re affected by va rious structures of the society like age , gender, re ligion, and educa tion . Neve rtheless, these structures h ave diffe rent effects for rural a nd urba n children . The research underlines that stru ctures cannot determine the activities of children even though th ey have large impacts. The study, moreover, depicts how the rura l a nd urba n child ren share the dominant loca l cultural schema. In this regard, children play a n important role in the production a nd reproduction of the local cultural schema. They reproduce different cultural schemas such as patron client relations, gender roles, hiera rchical, a nd egalitaria n relations, etc. This implies that children a re ac tors who promote cultura l continuity a nd ch ange in their localities.