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“You can save the planet”—environmental representations and responsibilization in children’s books

Conference paper
Authors Bengt Larsson
Published in 9th Conference of the European Sociological Association
Volume 090902
Publication year 2009
Published at Department of Sociology
Language en
Keywords environmental education, sustainable development, governmentality
Subject categories Sociology


This paper discusses one particular aspect of the cosmopolitanization of childhood by analysing children’s books giving advice on how to “save the world” from environmental catastrophe. Its purpose is to analyse how such books articulate and spread “eco-knowledge”, encouraging children to become environmentally aware world citizens. The analysis shows that these books urge children not only to become self-disciplined and caring, ethical “ecological selves”, but also to partake in producing local eco-knowledge and monitoring eco-discipline in their families, schools, and local communities. The interconnection of problems, blame, possibilities, responsibilities, commitment, and tactics and techniques made in these books articulates a persuasive and potentially mobilizing eco-knowledge. By simultaneously empowering the children, stimulating their cosmopolitical commitment, and suggesting certain techniques and tactics for improving their families’ and schools’ environmental performances, these books encourage children to identify with a duty of becoming cosmopolitical problem solvers.

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