Journal Article


Intergenerational Transmissions: Cultivating Agency?

Published on 1 January 2009

This IDS Bulletin reflects, as the first in the 40th anniversary volume, on some of the core areas of research and policy advocacy that are central to IDS’ work: inequalities, poverty, power, social protection, transformational education, HIV/AIDS, gender and climate change. It is also forward-looking, discussing emerging work on the future of our children. The issue explores the question of intergenerational transmissions and whether and how states, societies, development actors and parents are building the conditions under which children can imagine and realise better futures.

The concept of IGTs could convey path dependence, but they are not necessarily negative or uni-directional; and children can be vibrant agents of social change. Articles discuss how patterns of poverty, inequalities, violence and other such problems for development are transmitted across generations, as well as the conditions under which children exercise ‘agency’. There is no assumption that agency is inherent and automatic; the authors agree that agency is also cultivated. Neither is there an assumption that agency is innately productive; rather, the articles illustrate its complexity in differing contexts.

They show how the power relations that emerge within certain environments influence children’s perceptions. Policymakers must do more to recognise the relational and subjective dimensions to vulnerabilities, poverty and inequalities in multiple dimensions; transformative approaches can provide a more comprehensive policy framework. This requires self-reflection on the part of development actors and the genuine inclusion of children, who should not be regarded as mere objects of policy but as persons capable of making purposive, productive choices and translating these into actions.

Table of contents

Introduction: Intergenerational Transmissions: Cultivating Children’s Agency? Joy Moncrieffe

Excerpts from Focus Group Discussions: Bangladesh Naomi Hossain

Imagining the Future: Children, Education and Intergnerational Transmission of Poverty in Urban Bangladesh Naila Kabeer and Simeen Mahmud

Rethining Intergenerational Transmissions(s): Does a Wellbeing Lens Help? The Case of Nutrition Andy Sumner, Lawrence Haddad and Laura Gomez Climent

The Boys Left Behind: Where Public Policy has Failed to Prevent Child Labour in Bangladesh Sheikh Tariquzzaman and Naomi Hossain

Ali: Does He Have a “Choice”? Anasuya Sengupta

Perspectives on Intergenerational Vulnerability for Adolescents Affected by HIV: An Argument for Voice and Visibility Jerker Edström and Nichola Khan

Excerpt from Making and Unmaking the Young “Shotta” [Shooter]: Boundaries and (Counter)-actions in the “Garrisons”, IDS Working Paper 297 Joy Moncrieffe

Young Boys Learning to Fear, Hate and Harm: A Recipe for Sustaining Tribal Political Violence in Jamaica’s Garrisons Herbert Gayle

Children in War: Reintegrating Child Soldiers Alcinda Honwana

Troublesome Masculinities: Masculinity in Trouble Alan Greig

Disrupting Pathways of Intergenerational Transmissions of Gender Ideology and Practice Mariz Tadros

Intergenerational Transmissions and Race Inequalities: Why the Subjective and Relational Matter Joy Moncrieffe

Transformative Education and its Potential for Changing the Lives of Children in Disempowering Contexts Felix Bivens, Kathleen Moriarty and Peter Taylor

Taking the Long View: What Does a Child Focus Add to Social Protection? Rachel Sabates-Wheeler, Stephen Devereux and Anthony Hodges


Image of Naomi Hossain
Naomi Hossain

Research Fellow

Image of Naila Kabeer
Naila Kabeer

Emiritus Fellow

Image of Lawrence Haddad
Lawrence Haddad

Honorary Associate

Image of Jerker Edström
Jerker Edström

Research Fellow

Image of Mariz Tadros
Mariz Tadros

Director (CREID)

Image of Rachel Sabates-Wheeler
Rachel Sabates-Wheeler

Research Fellow

Image of Stephen Devereux
Stephen Devereux

Research Fellow

Felix Bivens

Alumni Ambassador USA

Publication details

published by
Moncrieffe, M.
Joy Moncrieffe
IDS Bulletin, volume 40, issue 1


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