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Nick Lee (2001)
· Instable adulthood = distinct childhood
Adults and children seen as `fundamentally different kinds of
Early 21st century ­ `growing up' no longer seen as a journey to
stability and personal completion
· Result of instable adulthood:
High divorce rates
No more `jobs for life'
Living in an `age of uncertainty'
Both adults and children are in a continual state of becoming
Growing similarity between adults and children is leading to a new
social construction of childhood
Children have their own concerns, own interests and should have
their own rights…read more

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Wendy Stainton Rogers (2001)
· Two images of childhood
Affects how children are treated
Innocent and wholesome
The innocent and wholesome image means we aim to
protect the children
Wicked and sinful
The wicked and sinful image means children need to be
restrained through laws and limitations
· Childhood has become more protected and privileged
time of life
Protected ­ Laws, rights, education, health, socialisation
Privileged ­ holidays, consumers, child-centred families…read more

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Childhood as a Social Construct
· Social construct - defined and created by society
· Sociologists see childhood not as a `natural' category, but
as socially constructed
· Childhood is not fixed in the same form in all societies
· What is seen as `childhood' varies:
Between societies (cross-cultural differences)
Within societies e.g. Between different classes
Historically, over time…read more

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Childhood as a Social Construct
Cross-cultural differences in childhood
· Benedict (1934)
· Children in simpler, non industrial societies are treated
differently from their modern western counterpart:
More responsibility at home and work
Less value is placed on obedience to adults
Children's sexual behaviour is often viewed differently
· Uganda ­ Child soldiers
· Japanese ­ High value on education and upbringing
· Cambodia ­ Sex slaves…read more

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Childhood as a Social Construct
Childhood in the West
· Childhood is seen as a special and innocent time of life
· Children are seen as fundamentally different from adults ­
as physically immature and not competent to run their
own lives
· As a result, they need a lengthy, protected period of
nurturing and socialisation
· Pilcher (1995) ­ childhood is a distinct stage of life (`child'
is a separate status from `adult')
· Cunningham (2007) ­ children seen as opposite to adults…read more

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