Open access peer-reviewed chapter

Socialization, Poverty and Love: Contributions from the Sociology of the Body/Emotion

Written By

Adrián Scribano, Angélica De Sena and Pedro Lisdero

Submitted: 21 June 2017 Reviewed: 25 January 2018 Published: 20 June 2018

DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.74391

From the Edited Volume

Socialization - A Multidimensional Perspective

Edited by Rosalba Morese, Sara Palermo and Juri Nervo

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This chapter aims to describe the central features of some conditions that enable the socialization of children and adolescents in Argentina as a possible example of them in the Global South, from the perspective of a sociology of the body/emotion. To achieve this goal, we propose the following argumentative strategy: (1) first, we will present a general approach to a sociology of bodies/emotions that allows us to access the phenomenon of socialization in an “oblique” way; (2) we will present general data related to the transformation of the educational institution as processes associated to the conditions of possibility/obstacle to the connection education-socialization; (3) we present and analyze data on the status of child poverty in order to render some central features of the processes that condition the possibilities from which children and adolescents “become part” of society; (4) the same is done regarding the nutritional deficit in Argentina; (5) to conclude, the re-constructed scenario is completed by identifying and describing interstitial forms from which maternal “love” is constituted as a platform for the possibility of certain axes of socialization in spaces of socio-segregation and expropriation.


  • socialization
  • poverty
  • body
  • emotions
  • love
  • Argentina

1. Introduction

“Dr. Georg Simmel seems to have been the first writer to use the word socialization in a definition of sociology. In his opinion, the investigation of the forces, forms, and development of socialization, of cooperation, of association of individuals, should be the single object of sociology as a special science. This definition is substantially equivalent to the conception of sociology as the fundamental social science. By socialization, however. Dr. Simmel apparently means chiefly the formation of social groups and the development of the forms of association. In the following pages, socialization is conceived as the development of a social nature or character—a social state of mind—in the individuals who associate. Socialization, as thus conceived, is furthermore regarded as an effect of association, and of the formation of social groups, and as a cause of the developed forms of association.” [1]

As it is possible to observe in the affirmation of Giddings for more than 120 years, the socialization interests to the sociology since it are one of the axes of the constitution of the society.

Social agents apprehend the content of social norms—about the adequate/acceptable and the inadequate/unacceptable—through a systematic process of making body/emotion the social history, which social sciences have called socialization. These processes begin in childhood and take place throughout the subject’s whole lifetime, which must incorporate social mandates, as well as the epochal modifications.

From the perspective of systemic integration and social integration, socialization processes become basic devices not only for the “incorporation” of individuals into society, but also, and fundamentally, for the arrangement of necessary and sufficient feeling practices in order to create, manage, and reproduce a particular type of social order.

In a very general way, socialization is in many cases analyzed in terms of the times and agents involved: the primary is linked to family and belief institutions such as religion, school, etc., while the secondary ones are linked to the market and friends/peers such as clubs, public spaces, etc. In the processes of socialization, states, cities, and corporations—through the so-called corporate democracy or corporate social responsibility—often participate with variable intensity. In all cases, the aforementioned participation implies the identification, elaboration, distribution, and reproduction of values and goals that the subjects and society will take for granted as “valuable objectives.”

It is in these processes that emotions become crucial for the subjects’ lives, and for the constitution of the society in terms of the social bearability mechanisms and the devices for the regulation of the sensations. These mechanisms and devices are directly related to the social phantoms and fantasies that structure the politics of the sensibilities of a particular state of the political economy of morality [2].

In this context, it is easy to see that the set of convergent processes in socialization is embedded in a specific surface and in regimes of truth, as well as, centrally, in their material conditions of existence. That is, socialization varies according to the regimes of accumulation, the forms of State, and the spatial-temporal contexts.

There is evidence of the changes that have occurred in the processes of socialization, the different times/spaces and the various agents of socialization. For example, what Jőrg Dűrrschmidt and his colleagues wrote about “Families, Social Capital and Migration in Time and Space: An exploration of strategies of getting by and getting ahead in comparative context – Germany and Britain” [3].

In the same direction, Annette Lareau has argued: “What we found was that although all parents want their children to be happy and to thrive, social class makes a very substantial difference in how this universal goal is met” [4].

From another perspective and recently it is possible to observe research on: socialization practices of Asian American second generation parents [5], perception of cross-generational differences in child behavior and parent socialization in China [6], the socialization experiences of Afghan adolescent refugees in an Iranian context [7].

It is from this setting that the central question of this chapter emerges: What is the situation of the process of socialization of children, adolescents, and young people in the current Global South structural conditions?

The question points to a very simple direction: to analyze concretely the material conditions of existence of children, adolescents, and young people that make socialization practices possible or difficult.

The Global South has become a temporary/spatial metaphor of the processes of expulsion, dispossession, and surplus expropriation that upset or re-mold boundaries, borders, and frontiers. Concrete examples of this re-spatialization are preventive war, forms of expulsion from migration, and dispossession of commons goods. All these indicate both the direction of “dangerous subjects” in all types of territory and groups/individuals living in conditions of double expulsion in other countries (and their own countries), and to the corporate ventures which, for example, capture water and virtual water in the four corners of the planet. Where the conditions of imposition, heteronomy, and segregation are updated, the Global South is instantiated as a planetary form of the expansion of the market as the only measure of things.

Given space constraints, we do not explain here the reason for “the existence” of the Global South under the assumption that the reader will grant us his/her agreement with two arguments: (a) the fact that we understand by Global South what social discourse captures when it is referred to, for example, at the World Social Forum and (b) although the present writing mainly refers to Argentina, this does not mean that we do not accept and suppose the proximity and distances with other scenarios of the Global South.

Thus, this chapter aims to describe the central features of some conditions that enable the socialization of children and adolescents in Argentina as a possible example of them in the Global South, from the perspective of a sociology of the body/emotion.

To achieve this goal we propose the following argumentative strategy: (1) first, we will present a general approach to a sociology of bodies/emotions that allows us to access the phenomenon of socialization in an “oblique” way; (2) we will present general data related to the transformation of the educational institution as processes associated to the conditions of possibility/obstacle to the connection education-socialization; (3) we present and analyze data on the status of child poverty in order to render some central features of the processes that condition the possibilities from which children and adolescents “become part” of society; (4) the same is done regarding the nutritional deficit in Argentina; (5) to conclude, the re-constructed scenario is completed by identifying and describing interstitial forms from which maternal “love” is constituted as a platform for the possibility of certain axes of socialization in spaces of socio-segregation and expropriation.

Thus, in this chapter we make clear how insufficient and unequal distribution of nutrients, accumulation of deficiencies, and structural deficits in education clearly indicate the existence of a process that we will call disallowance of socialization, like a form of socialization: socialization-in-the-non. The multiplication and impact of the impossibilities of living in a “world-of-no” generate socialization in the non as a practice of feeling. The impressions and perceptions associated and produced by the negation become the sensations that are socialized; the negation happens to be the axis of what society “teaches” to the majority of the subjects.

By showing evidence in this respect, we also strongly emphasize that love, in terms of interstitial practice, is the hiatus of the politics of sensibilities that rejects the aforementioned denial.


2. Approach to a sociology of body/emotion

By looking into reflections and theories about affection, emotions and feelings [8], we found references to seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth century social philosophers, including Descartes, Montesquieu, Bentham, Pascal, La Mettrie and Darwin, among others.

Early sociologists like Comte, Durkheim, Fourier, Marx, Sombart, Simmel and Weber also stated that emotional control is yet another form of discipline, one which affects social practices, relationships and worldviews in a reciprocal and dynamic way [9]. To a great extent, such concerns are also addressed in contemporary social theory, from different perspectives, by Bourdieu, Giddens, Foucault, Agamben and Esposito. In this context, Brian Turner and David Le Breton have been regarded as forerunners of social studies on the body, including the inquiries about emotions made by Kemper, Hochschild, Scheff, Collins and Illouz [10, 11].

A different perspective toward understanding the theoretical traditions that usually support the studies in this field of inquiry is to turn to the classic authors on this theme: Nietzsche, Merleau-Ponty, Spinoza and Marx. An additional view is gained in the presence of contemporary authors of sociology such as Goffman, Simmel and Elias, from the philosophy of Derrida, Butler and Deleuze, or the psychoanalysis of Freud, Lacan and Zizek.

From another perspective, it is necessary to also consider what Lisa Blackman and Mike Featherstone have recently stated. As editors of the journal Body & Society, they have emphasized the need to repair the multiple connections between life and affects:

“In our role as editors we have identified a number of emergent themes that are shaping the field, and these include a renewed interest in relation to life and affect across the social sciences and humanities. The paradigms of both life and affect break down the distinction between humans and other life forms, as we find in various forms of vitalism (Bergson, Deleuze, Massumi) and echoe in debates across the biological and ‘environmental’ sciences (Varela, Oyama, Lewontin, Margulis, Rose). This is a new post-humanism that examines our communality with other forms of creaturely life and companion species (Haraway), and the need for a non-anthropocentric ethics (Derrida). The focus upon life recognizes the governance and regulation of bodies (bio-politics), as well as investments across diverse practices (media, consumer, biotechnological) in both the materiality and immateriality of bodies as biocapital and bio-media (code, information).” [12]

As is often seen in Latin America as well as in other regions of the world, body(ies) and society(ies) are systematic objects of research where affectivity and sensitivity are strongly present.

Smith and Schenider [13] maintain that the numerous theories on emotions can be grouped within a tripartite classification: determinism, social constructionism, and social interaction.

Gross and Feldman Barrett [14], with an intent to evaluate the differences of perspective on the “generation” and/or “regulation” of emotions, classify current perspectives for studying emotions into four large groups: models of basic emotions, evaluative models, models of psychological construction and models of social construction.

For more than a decade Scribano have been aiming to account for the importance of the “existential turn” in social theory [15], advocating a close connection between the studies of the body and emotions [16, 17, 18, 19, 20] and also supporting the importance of exploring a line of study regarding the intersection of these works, by investigating the place and feeling of colors in relation to the issues that they raise [21].

Social agents experience the world through their bodies. Impressions of objects, phenomena, processes and other agents structure the perceptions that subjects accumulate and reproduce. From this point of view, a perception constitutes a natural means of organizing an agent’s set of impressions. This configuration consists of a logic built by impression, perception, and the result of these, which gives a sense of surplus of sensations. That is to say, it locates them on both sides of the aforementioned logic. Sensations, as causes and results of perceptions, give place to emotions as the effect of the process of assigning and matching between perceptions and sensations. Emotions, seen as consequences of sensations, can be seen as the completed puzzle coming together between sensations and action. So identifying, classifying, and completing the connection between perceptions, sensations and emotions are vital for understanding the mechanisms for regulating sensations, used by capitalism as a contemporary means of social domination.

Now, the connections and disconnections between perceptions, sensations, and emotions ordinarily operate in a “pre-reflective” state and become concrete practices amid the flow of social life, permeated by individuals’ class and status and their belonging groups. The need to distinguish and link the possible relations between sociability, experience and social sensibilities becomes crucial at this point.

Sociability is a way of expressing the means by which agents live and coexist interactively. Experience is a way of expressing the meaning gained while being in physical proximity with others. It is a result of experiencing the dialog between the individual body, the social body and the subjective body on the one hand, and the natural appropriation of bodily and social energies on the other.

For the body to be able to reproduce experience and sociability, it is necessary for the bodily energy [to be] an object of production and consumption. Such energy can be understood as the necessary force to preserve the state of ‘natural’ affairs in a systemic functioning. At the same time, the social energy shown through the social body is based on bodily energy, and refers to the allocation processes of such energy as the basis of the conditions of movement and action.

Thus, sensations are distributed according to the specific forms of bodily capital. And the body’s impact on sociability and experience shows a distinction between the body of appearance, body of flesh and body of movement. The forms of sociability and experience are intertwined and twisted in a Moebius band with the sensibilities that arise as a result of mechanisms for regulating sensations.

Social sensibilities are continually updating the emotional schemes that arise from the accepted and acceptable norms of sensations. They are just a little closer or distanced from the interrelationships between sociability and experience. Sensibilities are shaped and reshaped by contingent and structural overlaps of diverse forms of connection/disconnection among various ways of producing and reproducing the policies of the body and the emotions. As such, the policies of the body—that is to say, the strategies that a society accepts in order to respond to the social availability of individuals—are part, and not a small one, of the power structure.

From what has been put forth above, it is possible to understand that the logic of capital means that each subject is a potential merchandise and that, for them to become so, it is necessary to regulate sensations. That is to say, causing these subjects to become merchandise requires shaping the perception they have of themselves, annulling the sense that their lives are a set of objectifications, and which implies the dispossession and plundering of themselves.

Sociability, experience and sensibilities form a space of practices of the feeling that build and are built by the processes of socialization.

There are three fundamental features that contribute to understanding the context of socialization of children in the territories of what here we refer to as Global South: the situation of education, poverty and nutritional deficits. Undoubtedly, the “cut” that is presented here is not exhaustive regarding the complexity of socialization processes in the region.

However, these features are paradigmatic insofar they condense a sensitive point in the structuring of the politics of the bodies/emotions in the Global South: that is, they allow re-constructing a possible outlook at the game of availability of the corporeal and social energies. They also make possible to glimpse the consequences that this “state of relations” has in the configuration of the daily experiences of millions of children in these territories.

In this context, it is possible to understand how the reproduction of devices for the regulation of sensations is the contents of socialization processes creating the conditions for a specific politics of sensibilities. The regulation of sensations is the basic process that shapes the affective cognitive modalities by which subjects learn what is socially acceptable and what is allowed to them.

The complex interconnection between social bearability mechanisms and the devices for the regulation of sensations expresses and produces all the socialization process that derives from the material conditions of life. Poverty, denegation and “no real school access” make up of the deepest platforms from which denial and disallowance becomes a form of socialization. Disallowance of socialization like a form of socialization implies that negation “is the medium that becomes a message” (sensu Marshall McLuhan).


3. Socialization context I: education and politics of sensibilities

The policies of the body and the emotions are within and developed in specific geopolitical and geocultural contexts. In the current situation of the Global South, we can partly characterize such context by understanding the transformation of two of the most important axes: the social accumulation regime and the political regime. The former refers to a set of economic, social, cultural and judicial institutions through which the process of production, distribution and accumulation (reproduction) of material goods and values of a society are performed. While the political regime can be understood as a set of governmental and non-governmental institutions and processes carried out by social actors vested with a measure of power. It is through this measure that the political domination of society is exercised. One axis through which the policies of bodies and emotions are connected with the political regime is education. The educational processes, together with the family, are the pillars of all socialization. The social possibilities/impossibilities to have access to education are the basic features necessary to build the long-awaited inclusion of children in society.

Through these conceptual vectors, the processes of socialization can be analyzed from their inscription—as a condition of possibility and as a result—of specific social sensibilities. In this way, there is no doubt that the “school” has been a privilege actor in the processes which society regulates for its own reproduction: it shapes the bodies and the passions for “life in society.” Next, we will address some significant data about the recent transformations in our country’s educational system, as a way of understanding the complex perspective that is proposed here on socialization.

In this regard, we must point out that although the institution of education has lost its monopolizing role in the establishment of knowledge after the transformations that took place in Latin American countries during the last decades, it still retains an important role in the processes of socialization. However, it is necessary to determine its scope and characterize the impact of recent transformations. Under our perspective in particular, this becomes of interest as regards to the relations that can be established between these transformations—for example, in the formal education system—and the configurations of the subjects’ dispositions linked to a certain policies of the bodies/emotions.

Focusing on the relationship between the body/emotions and education is not a novelty; on the contrary, several authors have emphasized the same function of characterizing central connections in the processes of social change. In this regard, pointing out the role of schools and the education system in modern society, Carranza observes:

“The success of such an endeavor [constructing other behaviors, other habitats] means nothing less than the confirmation of the regulatory role of the school, and through it the confirmation of the State’s role, on group and individual behaviors; so that through the ‘inculcation’ of the new values, the subject inscribes ‘in his body’ what the State imposes.” [22]

Such regulatory function acquires certain characteristics in Argentina, due to the impact of public policies promoted by the State during the industrialization period and within the framework of a social pact between the capital and labor—first half of twentieth century. In this social formation—and despite an incomplete absorption of the workforce by the modern sectors—work held some centrality associating to a stable social condition, through its connection to rights and guarantees that did not exist so far. In this context, and along with the process of economic growth, the expansion of enrollment at all levels reached large segments of the population. Although this expansion had some limitations—and it is compelling to point out that these processes of social mobility and educational coverage have marginalized large groups of the population—the permanence of several sectors in the education system contributed to the consolidation of a certain “inclusive” societal matrix. This consolidation is associated not only with the universalization of the ideal of progress and social advancement linked to study and knowledge, but also with “the school’s” ability to shape the bodily and emotional dispositions necessary to ensure certain relations between the production of the social aspect and the social aspects of production [23].

Thus, if education is taken as one of the basic components of socialization in Argentina, looking at today’s scene is discouraging, and at the same time it is informative regarding its “enabler” or “hindering” character. In this sense, Alieto Guadagni acknowledges that:

“(…) our high schools [24] not only have a very low graduation rate, but also display inequality: out of 100 children enrolling first grade in a private school, 70 finish secondary school, while out of 100 who enroll first grade in a state school, only 30 complete middle school. But now we know the results of the 2016 Learning Assessment, which last year examined 6366 state schools and 3959 private schools for 319,000 students in fifth and sixth grade in high school. These results are conclusive because, unfortunately, they indicate that our school system is not breaking the negative cycle of the intergenerational reproduction of poverty. In other words, the knowledge of senior students in high school depends, essentially, on the socioeconomic status of their parents.” [25]

“School performance” data from the “Evaluación Aprender 2016” report (Learning Assessment 2016) indicates that students attending public high school institutions have poorer levels of mathematical knowledge (Figure 1); and it shows that most of the students who do not achieve basic knowledge levels in this area come from the lower socioeconomic sectors (Figure 2).

Figure 1.

Percentage of high school seniors with lowest level of mathematical knowledge, according to management system [26].

Figure 2.

Percentage of high school students with lowest level of mathematical knowledge based on socioeconomic status [26].

A similar perspective is gained by observing coverage at the primary level. If primary school enrollment is observed, the information follows the already outlined trend:

In 2015, 434,000 fewer students enrolled in primary school at state level compared with 2003—a decrease of 12%. This decline in primary school enrollment at state level is particularly noticeable in first grade, since, in 2015, 18% fewer students enrolled in these schools than in 2003. We are witnessing a steady state school exodus process. It is the first time this phenomenon occurs since the sanction of law 1420 in 1884 (of universal, free and compulsory education) [27].

Finally, considering the initial one, it is possible to see that 25% of the children do not attend the initial level (Figure 3), while at the general level, coverage of publicly managed education reaches the 76% of children.

Figure 3.

Indicators of deficit in the education setting and in the coverage of public education [28].

This brief review of some significant data about recent transformations in the educational system allows us to notice one of the most important changes of the last decades: the privatization of the school institution in a country with a strong state public tradition. This implies that one of the main agents of socialization is left “de facto” in the hands of the market, producing a turn not only in the qualitative inequalities but also, and fundamentally, in the politics of sensibilities associated with them. The paradox of the increase in the public education budget with the concomitant increase of the private enrollment rates implies a set of modifications for the possible socializations.

In this way, this first glance at one of the essential components in analyzing socialization processes leads us to reflect on those policies of the bodies/emotions. These sustain and, at the same time, are instantiated as a result of the mentioned transformations in educational institutions. The state public education sends a clear message: the private is more effective, thus socializing an aspect of negativity that implies denial.

Next, we will go on identifying some of these general features that contribute to define the limits of the transformations described so far, expanding the range of the issues/actors that shape the possibilities/obstacles of socialization in the Global South.


4. Socialization context II: poverty and nutritional deficit

Poverty in terms of deprivation implies the second feature of denial conditions of socialization. UNICEF’s report “Well-being and poverty among children and adolescents in Argentina,” recognizes the need to focus on multidimensional and dynamic hardship to “measure” poverty among children and adolescents. According to this well-known methodology, poverty has to do with the “deprivation of the material, spiritual and emotional resources needed to survive, develop and thrive…” [29].

Thus, by analyzing the structure of poverty among children and adolescents based on the survey of indicators by multiple clusters carried out in the country in 2011–2012, and based on the second quarter of 2015 of the Permanent Household Survey, the Report concludes that Argentina presents between a 25 and 32% of child poverty—that is, between 3.3 and 4 million subjects between 0 and 17 years old. Specifically for 2015, the UNICEF/ECLA methodology (2010) indicates that 31.7% of the children had experienced some kind of deprivation, with the highest values of “extreme deprivation” concentrating in the segment 0–5 years old [30] (Figure 4):

Figure 4.

Total and etreme child and adolescentet poverty, Argentina, 2015 [30].

The implemented methodology selects 10 dimensions (nutrition, health, education, information, sanitation, housing, environment, protection against violence, protection against child labor and leisure) linked to 28 indicators (e.g., regarding nutrition: those not exclusively fed with breast milk, those who do not receive at least 2 meals a day, etc.), from which certain “deprivation thresholds” are established. [30]

Even though the report focuses on different quantitative measurements of the above mentioned dimensions, we are interested in considering them as a whole to analyze to what extent these “deprivations” inform us about the state and distribution of body energies in almost one third of children and adolescents in Argentina. In this way, we could make a map of the experience of these subjects from the indicators defined in the report for each dimension-deprivation:

By piecing together the “clues” from Table 1, we can start giving shape to the idea of denial to illustrate the context in which the experiences of almost a third of the country’s children are configured, in relation to the successive “deprivations” described: boys, girls, and adolescents who are unprotected and exposed to “avoidable” conditions and deaths, “condemned” to school failure and suffering from disinformation; boys, girls, and adolescents who live in unfit environments where they settle in precarious houses that do not have sanitation conditions, and who are subject to labor exploitation and physical and psychological violence.

DimensionGathered indicatorsValuesBodily/social energies
NutritionBreastfeeding, do not have at least 2 or 3 meals a day22.4% of children between ages of 0 and 4 experience at least one deprivation in this dimension“(…) they are unprotected from gastrointestinal and other kind of infections, and they have higher neonatal mortality and death from diarrhea rates” “(…) those who were not breastfed perform more poorly in intelligence tests” [31]
HealthDiarrhea or cough
(they are “easily avoidable” indicators)
27% of children “would be deprived of their right of life”“(…) they are easily avoidable dysfunctions that could be eliminated with simple measures and at practically no cost” [31]
EducationRepetition, overage and school dropouts23.4% of children suffer some deprivation in education“a child that lives in a household that displays low-education levels triples the chances (of experiencing deprivation) in comparison with that who lives in a household with a higher education level” [31]
InformationAir TV, cable TV, computer, landline, cellphone, Internet access30% of children experience deprivation in at least one of the indicatorsA child’s access to information is related to “(…) her/his social, spiritual and moral wellbeing as well as her/his physical mental health” [31]
SanitationPublic and open bucket latrines28% of the children would be deprived of access to sanitation“The germs that develop in stools and that are not ingested orally are the main cause of diarrhea. This occurs more frequently when the elimination of the feces is deficient or when there is no drinking water available (…)” [31]
HousingOvercrowding, floor and type of housing19.5% of the children is deprived of this dimension“Overcrowding is key in measuring housing quality, and cohabitation with too many people per room increases the risk of losing dignity, contracting infectious diseases, and favoring domestic violence. More specifically, for children, this involves, among other things, poor sleep, contracting illnesses and being victims of abuse and violence” [31]
EnvironmentHabitat in areas close to landfill, likely to flood, do not have a regular waste collection service28.3% of the children experience deprivation in this dimensionDisaster areas (with “inclusive urbanization” policies seeks to “significantly reduce the number of deaths and people affected by disasters (…)” [31])
Protection against violenceVerbal and physical violence31% of the children suffer deprivation of an environment free of verbal and physical violence“Violence against women has repercussions in their children through maternal stress, anxiety, and depression. Children who witness violence are at greater risk of developing emotional, behavioral, and educational problems. When abuse occurs during pregnancy, the risk of complications increases, including preterm birth, low birth weight, miscarriage, and fetal death” [31]
Protection against child laborEconomic activity carried out by a childAround 7% of the children between ages 5 and 15 work“it deprives them of carrying out activities typical of their age, which affects their dignity and which, moreover, is detrimental to their physical and psychological development” [31]
LeisureTime devoted to recreational activities33% of children experience deprivation in this dimension“(…) they have to do with the development of children and their well-being. Thus, development is acknowledged as a multidimensional process that includes the motor, the cognitive (ability to integrate, think, and reason), the emotional (self-confidence and ability to feel) and the social, where the capacity to relate to others appears” [31]

Table 1.

Context of deprivation as a condition for socialization [32].

Instead of emphasizing the absence of the causing factor linked to deprivation, the notion of denial seeks to identify a process from which the impossibilities of the constitution of the individual, subjective and social bodies are configured. The idea of denial is then linked to the capacity of the mentioned indicators to communicate about the policies of the bodies/emotions that are configured as conditions of possibility—as territory—for the (possible) processes of socialization distributing a sensation: impossibility. In this context, it is necessary to ask ourselves about what possibilities of socialization, of “incorporation,” are linked to the existence of subjects who, for example, have not received the amount of basic nutrients for their development in their first years of life.


5. Socialization context III: nutritional deficit and weak bodies

In order to think about socialization in the Global South contexts, in addition to the education and poverty situation, it is necessary to highlight some central features about the persistence of nutritional deficits in the context of children’s food policies.

In Argentina, since the beginning of the last century, at least, there exists state practices aimed at remedying the so-called market failures (and/or the State’s) in the allocation of resources whose central objective is food. The scenario of its emergence can be described in a very simple way: along all these decades the State has recognized that a variable but important number of citizens cannot or have problems having an adequate food intake. The mere fact of maintaining such state practices over time, despite the obvious modifications they have undergone over the decades, points to the persistence of the problem: a significant part of Argentine citizens cannot meet their food needs through the free sale of their labor.

In Argentina—after a number of discourses about the profound transformations and the handling of sensibilities of the food problem [33]—nowadays there are clear indications that in the last 20 years, at least, the “same” food policies have been around, whose results continue not only to be insufficient but also inadequate in nutritional terms.

Two of the upheld characteristics of the policies mentioned are their continuity with similar criteria and their massification. Maceira and Stechina, in an article published in 2011, describe the food policy from 1983 to 2010 and argue that:

“With some exceptions, national food programs have been implemented in all Argentine provinces. This accounts for the broad coverage they provide. The stage of increasing decentralization and targeting of social policy, which began in the 90s, had systematically been eroding the universality that had characterized, for example, the school canteens program and the Mother and Child Program. In the analyzed period, the main criterion for the selection of beneficiaries has been, in general terms, the unsatisfied basic needs of the population. Some have kept considering the organization of civil society in relation to the community as a criterion of inclusion. Since 2001, food programs have tried to unify the beneficiary population, keeping children, women, and the elderly as a priority. The way of providing the benefit has been basically through the food packages supplemented, in the last years, with tickets or vouchers. The content, frequency of delivery, and nutritional value of the components of the packages have not been efficient or adequate, generally speaking. Both support to the canteens—with PRANI and FOPAR, continued by the PEA and PNSA [34]—and production in family, community and school gardens—ProHuerta, continued under the UNIDOS Program, PEA and PNSA—have been upheld since the early 90s onwards.” [35]

From another perspective and in a quantitative research, Longhi states very clearly:

“Far from being a thing of the past, child malnutrition is one of the most significant problems today; different territories with dissimilar living conditions that coexist within the same nation are identified, at least, from their concentration. The evidence found shows that malnutrition, despite having decreased, represents such an enormous problem that it is ranked as one of the most important national public health problems, greatly influencing high rates of infant morbidity and mortality, as well as prevalence of certain chronic diseases, which are difficult to quantify. Furthermore, the economic cost of the disease is very high—hospital expenses, productivity, education expenses, lower purchasing power, etc.—and the irreversible brain damage that it generates is also complicated to quantify.” [36]

Another study on early lactation yields similar results to those already mentioned:

“In short, the nutritional status of children and their subsequent development and health is related to the correct feeding from the mother, the duration of breastfeeding, the quantity and quality of food consumed by the child and the health conditions in which they live. The data prove that much remains to be done since, for example, there are too many children who do not receive exclusive breastfeeding during the first 6 months of age, there exist deficiencies in the consumption of food that are sources of essential nutrients among children from ages 2 to 5. Pregnant women suffer from nutritional deficiencies that could be avoided, childhood obesity has become more frequent, and there are still cases of food shortening, acute malnutrition, and low early childhood weight. In addition to all these, there are great inequalities between socio-economic strata.” [36]

In the inquiry about the connection between food programs and the diet improvement of the “beneficiaries,” the results are also negative:

“Regarding the objective considered in this paper, as a conclusion, it is highlighted in general lines that even though food programs should improve child feeding, there is no significant difference in the quality of the diet of children who receive food programs and those who do not receive them. There are even some negative aspects regarding crucial nutrients such as calcium intake and energy consumption among the program beneficiaries.” [37]

In short, we could say that: the more help they receive, the less energy they have and the more handling of weak bodies there is. The more lasting the help is, the greater are the epigenetic consequences. The more massive the help is, the more generalized/vast is the non-overcoming of the limits of life’s physical reproduction: the reproduction of the “programs” implies stabilization toward the fall of the corporal energy available and this becomes a disadvantage. In this way, “soup kitchens” keep on existing in communities, schools and institutions as a place to have a meal, which proves the persistence of malnutrition in women in their fertile age.

In the current conditions of the massive strategies used in food assistance, what is addressed is satiety and not nutrition. Therefore, these strategies do not consider how much energy people spend, and they are not even designed accordingly. They imply an intraclass and intergenerational reproduction of levels not yet explored. The need that the “program beneficiaries” of food products have to “cook,” “look for the powdered milk,” “take the program’s certificates,” “go to a workshop in the neighborhood,” “help at the community center,” among others is not a minor issue. In sum, there is no energy, no growth, no movement. There is an enshrinement of a “it’s what there is” and the State handles millions of weak bodies that undergo deficiency in nutrients intake. This way, the idea of denial of socialization in the contexts of Global South is related with the handling of weak bodies. These rules out any possibility of reproduction of corporal and social energies that exceed the metabolic processes of the capital.

It is not new in Latin America to find testimonies of families that receive governmental or NGOs’ food assistance. However, it becomes significant to realize that three or four generations are benefited from different social programs related to the management of nutritional deficit, considering the causes and consequences of this process as those that produce a specific modality of sensibilities. Therefore, this situation is an inescapable topic to understand the complexity of the current socialization processes.

The frequent expressions of the “world-of-no,” which are part of the multiple needs that children and adolescents experience, together with the unavailability of the energies of the “weak bodies,” constitute a framework where the processes of socialization, as we know them, should be questioned taking into account the aforementioned conditions. Far from being “new issues,” these are particularly significant because of their persistence in time and the consequences they imply. If we add the educational deficits to this situation, we have as a result a triangle of denial of socialization. Then, the weak bodies, the accumulation of needs and the difficulty in having access to education are hindrances to the social effort to socialize its members into “shared values,” which are just a way of non-socialization taken as socialization.

However, it should be noticed that denial in the contexts of weak bodies does not depict a single scenario of socialization in the Global South. Certainly, the perspective we introduce here allows us to identify a series of interstitial practices [38] which refutes the “extinction” of large social groups as an inevitable end. Indeed, this perspective originates a side of the socialization sometimes underestimated of the aforementioned contexts. Thus, in the last section we will address love as one of the practices that “organize” children’s and adolescents’ life in society.


6. “Everything for the children”: love as a life organizer

We want to depict in this section the role of maternal love whose main and practical objective is to guarantee the children’s present and future as much as possible. It is one of the fundamental features of the fracture, the fold, and the hiatus of the politics of sensibilities that the world-of-no education, nutrition and work—builds as socialization axes in segregation and expropriation spaces.

In the heyday of the Welfare State, a political economy of morality was consolidated and deepened based on work as an everyday life organizer: time to wake up, time to leave and go back home, having a credential to belong to a group—labor unions or associations-, among others. In this way, work organized the personal and familiar past, present and future: vacations, births and retirements. The central axes of socialization processes were the way adults dealt with the juggling of actions according to their work, their learning at school of capacities to get and keep a job, and their sharing with friends their first experiences of “earning money.”

In the crisis of the welfare models, the capacity to organize the everyday life differentiated those who still had a job—though unstable—from the ones who had to accept State’s assistance as a supply to reproduce their material conditions of existence. Within this framework, the social policies competed against work regarding their distinguishing impacts in the structure of the routine. Since 2000 mainly up to now, the social policies imply the creation of new guidelines in the economy of the moral where the receptors “adopt” a set of “feeling practices”; it is in their cognitive affective facet that they draw guidelines and color their everyday life. Thus, social policies, on the one hand, involve a hidden curricula and a pedagogic ambition; on the other hand, they involve methodologies of “working-as-a-beneficiary” which shape the everyday life organization of millions of people and hence becoming new ways of socialization.

It is precisely in the interstices of these last practices that maternal love is produced and reproduced as hiatus of the set claim for totality installed in the politics of sensibilities that involve social policies of resignation, propaedeutic to some extent.

Love is a fold that disputes resignation, as it turns the Me-You-Other relation into an object of desire. Our point of view here is based on the social approach of W.I. Thomas on desire as an organizer of social relations. In this light, the logic of response appears when the Me-You-Other relation is within the “energy” of desire. Love is a response structured in the intimacy and contact, which dialectically intertwines exteriority and interiority. A logic of response is made, between what is biological and what is social, as a structuring desire, as an action of wanting to get consent. That desire of being answered is part of a logic that has to do with the reproduction of the self and the reproduction of the surroundings. The key to answering and being answered is, as a result of the energy of desire, the potentiality that originates in the breaking with abandonment.

In the same way that the sociodicy of frustration implies impotence as a feature of what is social, love as an interstitial practice involves the energy of knowing oneself with others in the world as a springboard for action.

Resignation is another side of love as an affective state that turns the Me-You-Other relation into a main goal, that is, when “being with other(s)” becomes the goal of daily life production and reproduction, not only in reflective ways but also, and mainly, as an “unnoticed” component of the life we live every day.

We could say, from this perspective, that in the same way that there is a libidinal structure of capital, there is also an erotic processuality of the resistance. That erotic processuality of the resistance is crossed by the recognizing ability, as the first choice, and by the main goal that involves an affective state focused on the Me-You-Other relation. This, in turn, finds helically its interstitial abilities in the folds of the “non-human” necessity (sensu Marx).

Let us review now, in a preliminary and schematic way, that love consists of an interstitial practice. The complex and contradictory parent-child relations represent the first scenario where the actors grasp and reproduce the “practices of wanting.” Care, protection, safety and continuity are some of the manifestations of these practices. The asymmetry between children and parents establishes, among many other things, the social and genetic mandates of the reproduction of human species. Within the framework of the current structuring, we must emphasize that the practices that we want to conceptualize do not depend only on the genetic or blood relations. Care is one of the most basic practices of the wanting where by attending and assisting we relate to each other. Protection relates to shelter and safeguard. Continuity relates to persistence and lengthening. It is this way that, within the context of neo-colonial religion that involves the experience of millions of individuals from the sociodicy of frustration and from the world of “no,” the only thing they (we) “have left” is family. We cannot insist enough on the fact that we understand this as a “trench,” as a small leaking point where the oppressive totality is not structured or makes no sense: the “practices of the wanting” are a shelter from where hope is daily exercised. Precisely, this is so because filial love means, in any case, care, protection and continuity. These are what parents and children give each other, including, of course, parents and children without blood relation—that is to say, among all those who play the role of parents and children. Care has a lot to do with what future means. Why? Because that is what we care about. What is the bourgeois logic? It is misuse and acetic consumption. What does taking care mean in the You/Me/Other relation? It means to protect from harm. It means to protect in order to avoid getting hurt and hurting others. It is that pore that “stays there” and that resignation that does not manage to go through entirely. In other words, there is a point where the constitution of filial love works as a pivot point, as a platform where the relation “jumps” to another state as “practice of the wanting.”

Filial love, as an interstitial practice that “moves” toward a collective practice, is what Goffman calls “turns” in the dramaturgy of life experiences.

Yves Winkin, in its introductory study of “Erving Goffman Moments and their men,” holds that one of the events Goffman uses to exemplify his concept of “turning point” is “Love intervenes in a moment of people's crisis and ‘redirects’ all its conduct. ‘Reorientation that love conducts can be called ‘turn’” [39].

Most mothers, fathers, wives, relatives, and friends we refer to in the studies mentioned in this work said that their loss-situations “have changed their lives”: their everyday interactions, their bodily hexis, and the material ways of reproducing their existence have changed, in some cases, radically.

Filial love is extra energy that manifests as a result of the tensions among the family’s instituted features: legitimacy of the unequal gender trafficking, reproduction of private property, instructive process to the basic components of the political economy of moral principles, and material reproduction of the bodies/emotions.

In this context, to round up our paper on socialization, we want to present briefly some results about a set of interviews held in Buenos Aires, Argentina to women that receive some kind of State assistance. These interviews (29) were conducted in 2014, 2015 and 2016 with mothers that live in different slum areas in the city [41].

When we analyze the women’s answers, we find a recurrent connection across ages, nationalities, number of children, and marital status; it is the living by the precept of [doing] “everything for the children.” What we propose here is one of the axes of socialization that children who live in poverty and undergo diverse types of exploitation “have in common”: the corporal mark of their mothers’ love who give everything for them.

Beyond the fact that it is the moralization of the performed role of maternal care imposed by current social policies, the ones that complete the panorama of these complex politics of sensibilities, it is love as an interstitial practice the one that reorganizes the everyday life of millions of children, adolescents, and young people who see and realize how their mother does “everything for them.” Reciprocity, being free of charge, generosity in terms of achieving the minimal practices, shelter, clothing and food are, at least, seen and felt by the social subjects who, as we have shown in the previous sections, participate in expropriating socialization practices.

As we can see in Table 2, the connections between feeling practices, love and features of socialization from an interstitial view occupy a specific places in mothers and their children’s everyday life.

YearExpressionExperienced connectionWomen’s features
2014“…I set aside half of what we save to put it there and the other half in case they need something (for the children).” (1, …)Need26 years old Argentinian
“… then, having a card to buy food, I buy yoghurt and milk for my children, because… my children had suffered a lot, my children saw how they had yoghurt and they ask for that, they wanted to beg and I hit them because of that, then I felt a lot of pity…”(3, …)Suffering32 years old Argentinian
“In my case, it is useful for me. I do not know about the other cases… in my case I thank for it, but if there is another person who does not need it and cannot take advantage of it… because I can take advantage of it… I buy food or stuff that my children do not have.” (6,)Gratitude42 years old Peruvian
2015“Well, like any mother that wants the best for their children, right… in my case, I’d like to get out from here in a near future, to give them a better life, and I do not know… because I think that in slum areas, the slum areas are not for the children, unfortunately, it’s like that… (2,)The best for the children43 years old Argentinian
“The prenatal care… I just devote myself to my children, I buy them clothes, tennis shoes, stationeries, just and only for the children. And my salary, apart from my salary, yes, I have to pay the rent, I have to pay the electricity or cable, because here sometimes I am charged for cable, and [I have to pay] to eat. I manage at home with that. And expenses that we women have, you know? But what I have to spend on the children is separated, that’s true.” (7)Children’s expense25 years old Argentinian
2016“I really do not like that my child stays here all the time, all his life. Here there is too much danger.” (…) “I tell you that a person can leave, for example, young people go out and party out there. And you do not know if they are coming back, because you get killed for any stupid thing (…).” “Erh, are you scared, that this will happen to you too, right? It’s like that, but well. And they want to stay, but well. Their future here.” (3,)Danger50 years old Paraguayan
“I am only in charge of my family and that’s it. (…) Once you have children it’s like you just lean on them, because your family is not like you said it was before… No, that’s that, your children are your children.” (1,)Leaning on the children23 years old Argentinian

Table 2.

Feeling practices, love and features of socialization from an interstitial view [40].

The filial love identifies and acts by breaking and re-establishing a network of practices of feeling characterized by: Need, Suffering, Gratitude, Danger and “The best for them.” Mothers give their children and by giving them they teach how to give, mothers provide and by providing show them how to provide. Mothers shelter their children’s and given shelter sharing modes of action to care.

Patterns of feelings start forming in children in such a way that, perhaps, just like their mother, these actions are the only ones that they “repeat” while remembering their mother’s love.


7. Conclusion

Returning to the initial quote of Giddings, and re-thinking the processes of socialization in the current contexts of global restructuring continues to be a central mission for sociology.

In the particular spaces that we have defined as “Global South,” this task nevertheless acquires specific features that lead us to problematize the paradoxical situation from which millions of subjects live the tensions constituted between two apparently antagonistic forces. On the one hand, the inertia that drives various forms of association between individuals, and on the other, the expulsion forces that question not only the social nature of the subjects, but also their own individual existence.

Thus, a concept of socialization that does not simplify the complexity involved in this paradox, should implies a compression framework that integrates the specific contributions that from various fields have been developed around the mutations of the practices from which societies “historically” con-form their members.

The proposal that we outline here—recovering some elements from the sociology of bodies/emotions – address as an oblique look at the processes of socialization. That is, we ask ourselves about certain practices of feeling that are constituted as conditions of possibility/impossibility for the processes from which the dialectic relationship of “becoming part of a society” is structured in our societies of the Global South.

From our perspective, these practices can not be thought of in a way that is separate from the individual bodies that support them. Thus, it is the bodies of children and young people who provide us with clues about the updating of these tensions that concern sociology from its origins. In other words, the marks that print on the bodies the experiences of these subjects in the different areas (the school, the family, the secondary groups, etc.) constitute the concrete evidence of the processes that occupy us here. Addressing the obvious transformations in the actors, institutions and times of the processes of socialization from this perspective involves centrally linking the relationships between the conditions of existence of individuals and social forms specifically developed in terms of establishment and maintenance of certain proper ways of being and feeling socially.

As we have stated, the changes in educational institutions, the deprivations associated with poverty as well as the nutritional deficit suffered by children and adolescents, led us to the notion of denial of socialization. This notion constitutes a particular platform of practices that are at the same time product and process in production. That is, practices that are the result of living in a society where an important part of children and young people “have no education, are poor and can not access food.” And at the same time, these practices extend as a regime of truth associated with a political economy of morality that seems to traverse and shape institutions and individuals, constituting a specific social order. The mediations between one and the other are an unavoidable point in the research agendas of a sociology committed to the construction of critical tools of knowledge.

Precisely in order to establish a possible research agenda about socialization, here we wanted to end this brief contribution highlighting a specific component of the observed processes: mother’s love as an organizer of life. In the scheme we propose, the denial as a central component of an extended socialization platform in the Global South does not constitute a uniform and inexorable feature in the experiences of children and adolescents, but rather, based on the indeterminate logic of social processes, we find a series of specific, interstitial practices that deny “the lack of a future” as the only possible reality. Thus, even those who live the world-of-no (not education, not nutrition, etc.) also experience the love of mother as a social force that, while it teaches other forms of “being” and “feeling,” poses certain brief parentheses of socialization in the face of expulsion inertias.

The mark of the interstitial practice nestled in the mother/child love is, at the same time, the most basic and persistent experience of humankind that a child can have. And fortunately, that is what occurs in the contexts of denial of socialization and of weak bodies such as the ones that millions of children suffer in the Global South.


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Written By

Adrián Scribano, Angélica De Sena and Pedro Lisdero

Submitted: 21 June 2017 Reviewed: 25 January 2018 Published: 20 June 2018