A Research Agenda to Examine the Political Economy of Digital Childhood

As part of my work for the ARC centre of excellence researching digital childhood I chair the editorial board for our working papers.

I have also co-authored a review investigating how the historical concept of a political economy of childhood might be usefully applied to children growing up in the digital age in order to establish an new research agenda. The review first defines what a political economy of digital childhood has meant historically in order to map working definitions. It then characterises research into the differing political economies of:

  • communications and the media
  • children and consumerism,
  • digital consumption,
  • and the family and education to see how such traditions might be either brought together or kept apart.

It argues that the research arena of digital childhood sits at a confluence of these academic research traditions bringing together studies of the political economy of the media and of childhood. The paper then reviews contemporary research into the political economy of digital childhood and concludes by offering areas for further research and enquiry structured around the key themes of: markets; institutions and platforms; and value.