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CHILDHOOD AS A SOCIAL
CONSTRUCT
o Childhood is socially constructed; something created and defined by society
o What people mean by childhood and position children occupy is not fixed ­ differs between
times, places and cultures

The modern western notion of childhood

o Childhood is a special time of life…

Page 2

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Historical differences in childhood

o Differs over time as well as between societies
o Today's childhood is a relatively recent `invention'
o Philippe Aries childhood did not exist in the middle ages
Children weren't seen as having different needs from adults
Childhood was short in Middle Ages
Began work at…

Page 3

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Jacques Donzelot - theories of child development stressed need for protection
and supervision
o Laws and policies apply specifically to children
Such as minimum age for activities such as smoking
Reinforced idea that children are different from adults
Different rules must be applied to their behaviour

o Process of industrialisation…

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o Not all children share same status or experiences
o Children of different nationalities likely to experience different childhoods

90% of worlds low birth weight babies born in 3rd world
o Gender differences between children
o Mayer Hillman boys more likely to be allowed to go out alone after dark…

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o Some adult control over children's lives is justified
Children cannot make rational decisions, unable to safeguard interests
o Children are not as powerless as the child liberationists claim
Childrens Act establishes principle hat children have legal rights to be protected




THE FUTURE OF CHILDHOOD
Idea of children's rights could…

Page 6

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o Argues strong evidence of continued existence of a separate children's culture over many
years
o Findings contradict Postman- their study shows children can and do create own
independent culture separate from that of adults

The Globalisation of Western Childhood

o Child liberationists argue that modern western childhood is oppressive…

Page 7

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Compulsory education makes young economically dependent for longer
Children's freedom of movement is more restricted e.g. stranger danger
Children have greater access to communication
o Childhood may be disappearing because of falling birth and death rates ­ produces an
ageing population
Jean Qvortrup ­ as number of parents with dependent…

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