Liesbeth de Block is Programme Leader of Sociology of Childhood and Children’s Rights MA, Research Officer at the Centre for the Study of Children Youth and Media, and Lecturer at the Institute of Education, University of London. She studies the interrelationship between media, migration, childhood, globalization, young people, and education.
Block and Buckingham view children to be “social actors in their own right” (34) and, agreeing with Husband (1998, 2000), believe their “right to communicate should be seen as a vital dimension of modern, multicultural societies” (198). What needs to happen, we need “educational and cultural policies that will explicitly support it” (198), and we need to look beyond the traditional school, understanding “that the majority (if not all) students are now subject to global economic influences, images, and cultures. We can no longer take a nationalistic view on citizenship and participation nor encourage a view of study and work as independent from the rest of the world” (199).
The experience of the transnational migrant child is particularly singular. Children are not only the motivation for most migration (in that the majority of migrants move for economic opportunity), they often assist their parents as the families’ “front line” (23) in their adoptive countries with language, access, etc. (this often shifts parent-child power relations). At home, the parents and children also express interest in different media. This generational viewing reflects the gap between the home country tradition and adoptive country culture. Much more than their parents, migrant children consume local, regional, and global media, and each type reverberates in the experiences of the others. Block and Buckingham recommend, therefore, what we think in terms of transnationalism and not diaspora when discussing contemporary migrant families’ endeavors to negotiate their new environments.
Block and Buckingham advocate for improved policies, particularly for this sector, given the widening gap between the “technology rich” and “technology poor.” This is especially the case since while the while the majority of youth media research exists within the formal education sector, some educational research suggests visual methods are effective at reaching students otherwise disenfranchised by traditional education.