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Slide 1

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Childhood as discussed is socially constructed and varies between
different cultures, societies, countries, times. There are important
differences between childhood in western societies compare to those of
third world countries and European societies in the past. For example
schooling in the middle ages was available to only the wealthy, and child
labour was just a fact of life. It was then made compulsory in 1880 for
children to undertake schooling as there was an urge for a numerate and
literate workforce, other influences such as better standards of living and
better welfare provision also contributed to the changes in "childhood"
Most sociologists agree that the process of industrialisation, shift from
agricultural, to factory production, is the basis of many of the changes to
The "march of progress view" suggest that in western societies the position
of childhood is better then it has ever been, including sociologist such as
ARIES and SHORTER who state that today's children are better cared for,
valued and protected, enjoying better health then those in previous
On the other hand the "conflict view" contradicting the "march of progress
view" where it is believed that childhood is based on a false and idealised
image, ignoring important inequalities.…read more

Slide 2

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The "march of progress view" is held by sociologist who believe
that there has been a vast improvement in the position of children
arguing that children's position in society is better then it has ever
been, in past centuries.
"LLYOD DE MAUSE" (1974) " the history of childhood is a nightmare
from which we have only recently been able to awaken from. The further
back in history we travel the lower the level of childcare and the more likely
children are to be killed, abandoned, killed, terrorised and sexually abused."
Writers such as ARIES and SHORTER, held a march of progress
view, stating that today's children are more valued, protected and
cared for. For example there are laws preventing the exploitation
of children, child abuse and child labour, while there are a number
of professional arrays who specialise to maintain their educational,
psychological, medical needs.
Other contributions to the improvement of the position of children
Better standards of living and family sizes- (down from 5.7 births per
woman in the 1860s to 1.84 in 2006), concludes that parents are better
equipped to provide for their children and afford improved
resources for their children. (Liverpool Victoria) By the time a
child reaches its 21st birthday they are likely to cost their parents up to
£186,000.…read more

Slide 3

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Further more the march of progress sociologists argue that the
family has become "child centred", children are no longer to be
"seen and not heard" as they were in Victorian times. In times
today this has changed drastically as children are now the focal
point of a family, they are consulted upon on many decisions as
never before. Parents tend to financially and emotionally invest
a great deal on their child. Frequently it is said that the parents
have high aspirations for them to have a better life then they
had with more opportunities.
It is not only the family that is "child centred" , as the whole of
society is much more child focused, with media output and
many leisure activities being specially designed to cater for
children.…read more

Slide 4

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The march of progress view suggests that childhood has changed
drastically within a short period of time. However the conflict view
suggests such as Marxist and feminists dispute this claiming that
society is in conflict between different social groups such as
gender and class. Conflict sociologist see the relationship between
groups as one of domination and subordination, in which the
dominant group act as the oppressors.
Conflict view suggest that childhood is based on a false and
idealised image and tends to ignore inequalities. They criticise the
march of progress views on two grounds:
· There are inequalities which children face in terms of
opportunities and risks they encounter remaining unprotected and
uncared for.
·Secondly the inequality amongst children and adults being even
greater then ever before, children today face greater control,
dependency, and oppression not greater care and protection. For
example child centeredness does not mean that all children are
looked after, neglect and child abuse are also common amongst
families. Dependency on adults and inability to obtain legally paid
employment means that they will have fewer chances to escape an
unhappy family life. It is estimated that an average of 11 percent of
young people run away from their homes on a regular basis,
before their sixteenth birthday, according to a report in 2005 from
the children's society.…read more

Slide 5

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MAYER HILLMAN (1993) "Boys are more likely to be allowed to cross
or cycle on roads, use buses or go out after it is dark unaccompanied.
JULIA BRANNEN (1994) Asian parents were more likely to be strict
towards their daughters . GHAZIA BHATTI (1999) found that ideas of
izzat (family honour) could be a restriction, especially on Asian girls.…read more

Slide 6

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In industrial societies children have limited
opportunities to earn paid employment therefore
they are economically dependent on adults:
· Labour laws and compulsory schooling exclude
them from any paid employment unless it is
marginal or part time work, being very low paid.
·Although the state pays child benefit this goes to the
parents not the child.
·Pocket money may have restrictions depending on
"good behaviour", or there maybe restrictions on
what it can be spent on.
All this contrasts with the role of children in third
world countries such as the Sudanese children who
are contracted to working productively at the age of
3/4 .…read more

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