Childhood as a Social Construction

Notes on Childhood as a Social Construction for the AS sociology Families and Households topic.

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07th September 2011
Childhood as a social construction
In other countries children are not separate from adults and have the same responsibilities.
E.g. child soldiers, children working in third world countries.
Differences throughout time e.g. children in Medieval England were treated as miniature
adults: at 7 you could be hanged for stealing.
What is meant by separateness?
The idea that children hold a separate status to the rest of society, different rights and
responsibilities. (Jane Pilcher)
Why has the position of children changed?
Laws that restrict child labour & exclude children from paid work.
As a result, children stop becoming an economic asset and become an economic liability.
1880: Introduction of compulsory schooling.
Also stopped children becoming an economic asset.
Child Protection & Welfare Legislation
Welfare of the child becomes a fundamental principle of welfare agencies.
Growth of idea of children's rights.
For example, the Children's Act defines parents as having responsibilities rather than `rights'
in relation to children.
Decline in infant mortality rate
Causes child centeredness.
Historical Evidence
Children being hung at 7 years old for theft
Children doing labour as if they were adults.
No school for children: instead work as an apprentice.
Children live and work in the same room as their parents.
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