Childhood #1 Social Construction of Childhood

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  • Social Construction of Childhood
    • Different societies have treated children very differently
    • Most sociologists argue that the idea of children is not something natural and given
    • Firth (1963)
      • In his study of the Pacific Island of Tikopia found that children carried out dangerous tasks such as using sharp tools and fishing in the open sea
    • Childhood is a social construction which means that it is not a natural state but shaped and given meaning by culture and society
    • How we treat children - how we expect them to look, behave and develop- is decided by the kind of society you live in - this is what socially constructed means
    • Different historical periods have varied a lot in the way children are regarded and treated
    • In his book Centuries of Childhood (1962) the French Historian Aries argues that the concept o childhood was socially constructed
    • This means that the idea of childhood, the types of behaviour considered appropriate the way children should be treated, and the length of time that childhood should last are socially constructed
    • In our society it is generally accepting that children are distinctly different from adults and that childhood should be a special time of life and that it should be protected from the "adult world"
    • Different cultures treat children in different ways

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