Dominance of Socio-Cultural (Family and School) Apparatus on the Psychology of Children: Critically Probing the Success of Roald Dahl’s, Matilda, and Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid

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Ms. Devika Gaba, Dr. Laxmi R. Chauhan (Supervisor)


The clash between nature and nurture has remained predominant in exposing structured dichotomies of varied social concerns, children and childhood being no exception.  In the light of Louis Althusser’s identification of different cultural apparatuses leading to uniformity of human behavior, the paper intends to study the role of these institutions in generating considerable responses from children. It is observed that conditioning and manipulation done in an effort to achieve the desired results can lead to restricted sense of understanding, and can forbid natural human potential.

The paper also makes an attempt to account for the popularity of atypical models like, Greg Heffley, and Matilda; children whose flaws and inadequacies are just as normal, as they are human. They take the risk of conforming to their instincts, and subtly defy authorial dictations that go against their aptitude. No wonder, such texts are highly favored by the supposed beneficiaries, i.e. children, and highly gagged by adults; ones who apparently function as preservers of dominant modes of social relations. The paper concludes that the degree of interference of any social institution is justified to the extent it doesn’t hamper natural human potential. Children like to read not didactic texts that morally intend to preach, but discourses that enable them to discover social and cultural fallacies on their own.

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