Social stereotypes in the voice of children: an analysis of school books of the Portuguese Basic Education

Teresa da Conceição Mendes de Castro Rui Manuel do Nascimento Lima Ramos About the authors

Abstract

The present study fits in the general field of Child Studies. It analyses a set of selected texts from school handbooks and textbooks used by the Portuguese Education System (4th grade of elementary school). It aims at revealing the representations that these texts make of children and childhood, through giving voice to children, as well as the way these representations are presented to the reading children, influencing their ways of being, thinking and acting. For that purpose, it grants special importance to linguistic materiality and to enunciation, within the framework of discourse analysis. It also takes contributions from the theories of enunciation, textual analysis, pragmatics, socio-discursive interactionism and sociology of childhood. This study concludes that children represented in these texts are portrayed as deprived of voice and power: they are consumers but not co-producers of culture. The child characters are depicted as submissive to the instituted powers and almost never express their opinion about the matters concerning them. In addition, they simply follow the rules and obey to those who have the power to enforce authority and punishments. These texts are mainly configured as texts of resignation, not of questioning.

Discourse analysis; Child; School handbook; Social stereotype

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