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.