The intention of this chapter is not to provide a treatise on theories of childhood, there are many texts that do this much better (see Suggested further reading), but to summarize the main theories that have contributed to scholarship about children and childhood, so that the influences these have had on policy and practice can be mapped to the journey that has brought us to Every Child Matters (ECM). Policies are shaped by the dominant theories of an era. The integration of children’s services can be better understood and contextualized if we have a grasp of the complexity and contradictions of the underpinning theoretical frameworks. ECM, in aiming for a holistic, equitable, joined-up approach to children’s services, is tasked with making sense of, and harmonizing, the various contradictions that successive policies have spawned. This chapter explores the interweaving of those theories and policies and their influence on ECM. I begin by reflecting on the meaning of childhood and how theory has moulded the evolving status of children in society.
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