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Coined by American anthropologist David Lancy and popularised through his 2008 book The Anthropology of Childhood; modelled on and contrasted with gerontocracy (society in which elders are esteemed).


neontocracy (plural neontocracies)

  1. (anthropology) Any society in which young children are highly valued (despite their relatively low social utility in objective terms); the practice, prevalent in the West, of so valuing young children.
    • 2014, Rachael Stryker, “Chapter 7: On Family: Adoptive Parenting Up, Down, and Sideways”, in Rachael Stryker, Roberto J. Gon, editors, Up, Down, and Sideways: Anthropologists Trace the Pathways of Power, Berghahn Books, page 151:
      But looking at the neontocracy from up, down, and sideways—that is, cross-culturally, historically, and holistically—leads quickly to the realization that in many cases, institutional attention to families benefits the institutions themselves more than it aids families.
    • 2015, David F. Lancy, The Anthropology of Childhood: Cherubs, Chattel, Changelings, 2nd edition, Cambridge University Press, page 71:
      And, incrementally, the gerontocracy becomes a neontocracy. But I would argue that the neontocracy has, lately, gotten out of control.
    • 2017, Susannah Cornwall, Un/familiar Theology: Reconceiving Sex, Reproduction and Generativity, Bloomsbury Publishing, page 99:
      David F. Lancy (2015) argues in his book The Anthropology of Childhood that the ‘neontocracy’ of many modern Western societies is anomalous when compared with the majority of cultures across the world and across known human history. [] There is less sense [in some gerontocratic contexts] than in neontocracies that children are to be protected, sheltered from work or considered non-economically productive.