- The nature of childhood, and changes in the
status of children in the family and society.
- Childhood as a social construct: Pilcher: wide cultural variations in the role of children. e.g. Samoan children expected to take part in physical and dangerous work and Tikopia children are not expected to obey adults.
- Dominant framework: Wyness: commonsense thinking sees childhood as a 'natural and inevitable phase of life that we all go through'. biological-physical and mental immaturity. therefore should be the same across different cultures and over time.
- Key features: 1. childhood and adulthood seen as opposites, childhood lacking key attributes of being a person attained in adulthood. 2. children not seen in own rights but as future adults 3. children=most earliest stage of individuality
- Emergence of childhood: Aries: towards end of medieval period modern conceptions of childhood began to appear as church leaders began to see children as 'fragile creatures who need to be safeguarded and reformed'
- Childhood as social construct: in medieval times, modern conceptions of childhood did not exist; chronological age not considered significant, children often died before adulthood so less important, children expected to work as they were capable to, children not protected from exposure to sexuality
- Postmodern: Jenks: identities have been destablished,so people no longer have a secure grounded sense of who they are, class solidarity broken down family insecure with frequent divorce, children final source of primary relationship, wives/husbands/partners become disposable but parent-child bond has not- intensifying the sense that children need to be protected and helps to explain the growing anxiety of child abuse
- Paranoid parents: Furedi: Parents' concerns to keep their children safe has resulted in far too many being driven short distances to school, forbidden to play in parks, limiting the healthy exercise and independence
- Disappearing childhood: Postman: distinctions between childhood and adulthood have been eroded: 1. growth of mass media exposing children to adult world: images and information, 2. increasingly blurred: children dressing in more adult and sexualised ways, adults trying to act and dress more youthful, adolescence is extended and young people delay getting a job, setting up home etc.