Families and households:Childhood

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  • Childhood
    • As a socisl construct
      • The modern western notion of childhood:
        • Innocent time of life
        • Distinct life stage
        • Physically immature and dependent
      • Non-industrial societies
        • More responsibility at work and home
        • Less value placed on obedience to adult authority
        • Children's sexual behaviour viewed differently
    • Historical differences
      • Aries notes that in medieval times childhood did not exist
        • Children had the same rights, duties and skills as adults
      • The modern notion of childhood emerged in the 13th century:
        • Schools began to specialise only in the education of the young
        • Church saw children as fragile 'creatures of God' needing protection
        • Distinction between adults and children's clothing
      • Why has their position changed?
        • Law banning child labour
          • Children are financially dependent
        • Specialist knowledge of children's health
          • Theories of child development stressed that supervision and protection was needed
        • Compulsory schooling
          • Separated children from the world of work
        • Lower infant mortality rates and smaller families
          • Greater financial and emotional investment into their fewer children
        • Children's rights (1880)
          • Parents have responsibilities of their children
    • The future
      • Postman - television culture replacing print culture:
        • Print culture:Children lacked literacy skills needed to access information, keeping adult knowledge from them
        • Television culture:Children have access to adult information, breaking down the barrier and weakening adult authority
      • Jenks:Modern society created childhood to prepare the individual for their future as a productive adult
    • 'A socially defined age-status'
      • Improvements
        • March of progress view
          • Family has become child-centered:Better care,legal protection, higher living standards and lower infant mortality rates
        • Conflict view
          • MOP view ignores gender,ethnic and class inequalities among children making their view over-generalised
        • 'Toxic childhood'
          • Palmer argues that technological and cultural changes are affecting children's development
        • Age patriarchy
          • Adults exercise control over childrens times, spaces and bodies.
        • New sociology
          • Children are active agents in creating their own childhoods


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