Childhood

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  • Childhood
    • Childhood as a social construct
      • Sociologists see childhood not as a 'natural' category but socially constructed.
      • Cross-cultural diffrences in childhood
        • BENEDICT (1934) - argues that children in simpler non-industrial societies are treated differently from their modern counterparts
          • More responsibility at home and work
          • Less value is placed on obiedence
          • childrens sexual behaviour is viewed diffrently
      • Childhood in the west
        • Childhood is seen as a special, innocent time of life
        • Children are seen s fundamentally different from adults
        • Childhood is a distinct life stage - According to PILCHER (1995), the key feature of the modern idea of childhood is separateness
        • According to CUNNINGHAM (2007), children are seen as the opposite of adults, with the right to happeinnes
    • Historical difference in childhood
      • ARIES (1960) - the idea of childhood does not exist
        • Children were not seen as having a diffrent nature from adults
        • he studies paintings only in europe
        • Work can begin from an early age
        • Children were mini adults with the same rights, duties and skills as adults
        • SHORTER (1975) parental attitudes towards children were very diffrent
          • High child death rates encouraged indifference and neglect, especially towards infants
        • The modern notion of childhood began to emerge in the 13th century
          • School began to specialise only in education of the young
          • Church saw children as fragile
          • Increasing gap between adult and childrens clothing
          • Aries argues that this is resulted in the emergence of the modern 'cult of childhood
      • Why has the position changed?
        • Lower infant mortality rates and smaller families
        • Specialist knowledge about children health
        • Laws banning child labour
        • Compulsory schooling
        • Child protection and welfare laws
        • The idea of children rights
        • Laws about social behaviour
    • Has the position of children improved
      • The march of progress View
        • ARIES, SHORTER and others argue that the position of childhood has been steadily improving and today it is better than it ha been in the past
          • Family has become child centered...:
            • Children have better care for ecuactional, psychological and medical needs
            • Infant mortality rate has significantly fallen
            • Higher living standards and smaller families so can afford to provide for a child's needs
            • Children are protected from harm and exploitation
        • THE CONFLICT VIEW : Marxists and feminists argue that the march of progress view is an over generated and idealised image
          • Inequalities between children
            • Gender diffrences
            • Ethnic diffrences
            • Class innequalities
      • Age Patriarchy
        • GITTINS (1998) argues that there is an age patriachy of adult domination that keeps children subordinate - adults excersise control over children
        • Ressistant children may try not to have the status of a chlild by acting older for example smoking
          • Hockey and James (1993) would say this shows modern childhood is a status most children wast to escape
    • The future of childhood
      • POSTMAN (1994) argues that childhood as we know is dissapearing
        • Gaining similar rights
        • Acting in similar ways.
        • Postman believes this is a result of television culture replacing print culture
          • The print culture - children lacked the literacy skills needed to access this information so there were many things parents knew about that children dont
          • Television Culture - makes information available to adults and children alike so children are able to get a lot more.
        • HOWEVER - OPIE (1994) believes childhood is not disparaging as the childhood culture continues to exist just in the forms of games, songs and jokes.
      • Toxic Childhood
        • PALMER argues that rapid technological and cultural changes are damaging children development. as a result children are being deprived of a genuine childhood
      • Change or continuing?
        • Some aspects of childhood may be disappearing or changing, others may be continuing. depends on...
          • Childrens rights
          • length of time spent in education
          • Childrens access to communication
          • growing similarities between children and adults
          • adult concerns about children's behavior, discipline and exposure to media

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