The social construction of childhood

  • Created by: Cody622
  • Created on: 06-05-15 20:11
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  • The Social construction of childhood
    • Pre-industrial societies
      • Young people used to take on adult responsibilities from an early age e.g. Work (Punch has found that children start work from age 5 in rural Bolivia today)
      • Children were not expected to take orders from adults. (Holmes has found that in Samoa today children don't get told what to do by adults)
      • There was no age of consent. Children became sexually active from an early age.
      • Philippe Aries: Childhood as a separate phase did not exist in medieval times
        • "Little Adults" - Did adult jobs and wore adult style clothes.
        • Children who could not contribute in poor families were abandoned by age 6
        • Most households had one room: children were not protected from "adult secrets"
    • The Emergence of Childhood
      • 1600's: Religious belief that children were vulnerable to bad behavior because their souls had not fully developed.
        • Corporal punishment - the origin between adults and children (beat the devil out of the child)
      • 1700's: First books on childcare - aim towards child centered households among some of the middle class
      • Aries: Argues that religious and moral reasoning for protecting children emerged in Victorian times
        • Also a concern about street crime among kids.This led to the creation of Childhood as a legal status.
    • Changes in the 20th century.
      • Compulsory secondary schooling 1944 and an extension of the period young people stay in education.
        • From September 2015 everyone has to be in some form of full time education or training until age 18
      • Laws to guarantee child protection e.g. Children's Acts 1969 and 1989
        • Parents rearing of children is now monitored through legislation such as the 1991 Child support Act.
          • In the event of a divorce children also have a say in which parent they live with (1989 children's act)
        • The child's support act 1991 requires absent parent to give financial aid
      • Legal Rights for children.
        • "The child that is hungry must be fed"
        • "The child that is sick must be nursed"
        • "The child must be the first to receive relief in times of distress
      • Fall in the birth rate and infant mortality rate has led to greater investment and emotional support being given to fewer children
      • Greater professional and academic interest in child development e.g. social workers and psychologists


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