Monash University

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Reconstructing Cambodian childhoods

posted on 2017-02-08, 04:11 authored by Czymoniewicz-Klippel, Melina Tanya
Presented as a series of peer-reviewed journal articles (either published or currently at some point in the publication process) nestled within three standard chapters, this thesis explores the impact of globalization on the social reconstruction of childhood, and therein the shape of children’s everyday lives, in Cambodia’s northwestern province of Siem Reap. Critical ethnographic data were collected over a ten-month period in 2007–2008 through the techniques of participant observation, semi-structured in-depth interviewing and focus group discussions. Cambodian adults and children, as well as foreign nationals, were included in the study sample in order to explicate multiple standpoints on the links between globalization and Cambodian childhoods. The thesis is divided into five distinct, yet interrelated parts. In Part I, the overarching theoretical framework of the thesis―globalization and childhood―is introduced and the research context and design outlined and justified. The second part, Part II, examines the complexities of applying participatory research methodologies to international childhood research. Through an interrogation of the methodological and ethical challenges inherent in promoting children’s active research involvement, this part of the thesis contends that researchers must work towards decolonizing research so as to accommodate local cultures and conditions and therefore promote safe, productive research participation. In the third part of the thesis, Part III, the social definitional changes that are occurring as children and youth actively resist the adult power which has, for many years, facilitated their subordination within Cambodian society are outlined. Presented is a preliminary grounded theory model that overviews the changing nature of the governance of Cambodian childhoods, as well as a piece on the ways in which social and structural factors and changes, arising by way of globalization, are influencing the timing of children’s transition to adulthood. Part IV of the thesis deconstructs three competing discourses underpinning the current reconstruction of Cambodian childhoods. The articles that are included in this part of the thesis provide evidence that Cambodian children are not merely passive victims of power inequalities, but rather creative social actors who are actively engaged in negotiating rapid societal change. They also expose the well-meaning, yet risk-inducing actions of parents and development practitioners who are highly focused on creating for Cambodian children the types of childhoods that they themselves render most suitable. The thesis finishes, in Part V, by summarizing the main conclusions of the research, discussing the limitations of the study, and outlining the implications of the research findings for future inquiry. The final part of the thesis also stresses that local and global actors must work together to develop further understanding of the lived challenges brought about by Cambodia’s rapid development and in turn initiate culturally-sensitive interventions that support, rather than inhibit, Cambodian children, families, and communities to find a “Middle Path” between tradition and modernity.


Principal supervisor

Milica Markovic

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre

Psychological Sciences

Campus location



Doctor of Philosophy

Degree Type



Faculty of Medicine Nursing and Health Sciences

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