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Des enfants entre autonomie et contrôle
Children staying in hospital are not as vulnerable and helpless as we adults believe them to be. Sociological literature has shown that they are on the contrary very active during their hospitalization in order to gain control of their conditions. Our ethnographical study, conducted in two pediatric units, shows that they often try to obtain personalized treatment. But children are not equal: those who already go to school or who are hospitalized longer know how to obtain this kind of treatment better than the other children. Health professionals now encourage children’s autonomy more than in the seventies, believing that it is useful for children’s socialization. Control intervenes when children are not compliant or disturb a unit’s organization. Thus tensions exist between two representations of children, whose autonomy is recognized only partially, i.e. when granted by adults, but not when constituted by children themselves (whose agendas differ).