Neither seen nor heard: Children's citizenship in contemporary democracies

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102 Scopus citations


This article addresses the subject of children's citizenship in liberal democracies. While children may lack full capability to act in the capacity of citizens, the political status to which they have been relegated leaves much to be desired. Paternalist policies dictate that children be represented politically by their parents, leaving them as or more vulnerable and excluded from private life as women were under coverture. Lacking independent representation or a voice in politics, children and their interests often fail to be understood because the adults who do represent them conflate, or substitute, their own views for those of children. Compounding this damage is the tendency for democratic societies to view children not as an ever-present segment of the populace, but rather as future adults. This encourages disregard for children's interests. Until democratic societies establish a better-defined and comprehensive citizenship for children, along with methods for representation that are sensitive to the special political circumstances faced by children, young people will remain ill-governed and neglected by democratic politics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)221-240
Number of pages20
JournalCitizenship Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Political Science and International Relations


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