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More than ever before, children are apparently being recognised as social actors and citizens. Yet public policy often involves increased control and surveillance of children. This book explores the contradiction. It shows how different ways of thinking about children produce different childhoods, different public provisions for children (including schools) and different ways of working with children. It argues that how we understand children and make public provision for them involves political and ethical choices. Through case studies and the analysis of policy and practice drawn from a number of countries, the authors describe an approach to public provision for children which they term 'children's services'. They then propose an alternative approach named 'children's spaces', and go on to consider an alternative theory, practice and profession of work with children: pedagogy and the pedagogue. This ground breaking book will be essential reading for tutors and students on higher education or in-service courses in early childhood, education, play, social work and social policy, as well as practitioners and policy makers in these areas.