Notes on childhood

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  • Created on: 11-05-11 21:41
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Childhood Notes
Childhood is socially constructed by adults ­ childhood is defined as such and there are attitudes and
expectations attached to how children should behave and be treated. Evidence for a Child Centred society;
1. Changes in children's legal rights
2. Different between societies
3. Prolonged childhood
Pre industrialisation
Mini adults who took part in the same work and play activities as adults
Toys and games didn't exist
Children were economic assets rather than as a symbol of love
Investing emotionally in children was difficult as death rate was so high
Pre industrial family was a unit of production so children were used very much for labour and
those who didn't help went out to work
These attitudes continued towards the working class ­ children were frequently found working in
factories, mills and mines
Middle class children were different ­ growth in parental love as infant mortality declined.
Mid 19th century social attitudes began to change ­ concerns over juvenile delinquency, beggars,
prostitution, and consequently wanted to get children off the streets
Children were excluded from mines but some working class resisted these moves as they needed
the money
19th century = social construction of childhood by adults and had 3 characteristics
1. Opposite to adulthood ­ children were seen to be in need of protection, to have right not to
work, dependent on adults
2. Worlds were kept separate ­ home and school were ideal places for children and often banned
from adult places i.e. pubs
3. Children were seen to have the right to happiness and innocence.
20th century
Emergence of a child centred society ­ result of improved standards of living and nutrition which
led to a decline in infant mortality
Increased standard of living meant having children was also more expensive
Increased availability of contraception allowed parents to choose to have fewer children and were
able to invest more love and protection into them
Greater involvement in the state in protecting them ­ state supervises the socialisation of
children through compulsory education; role of social workers and social services to police families
where children are seen to be at risk
Government takes financial responsibility for them by paying child benefit and children's tax
credits to parents
2004 children's act has produced the influential; police `every child matters' which focuses on the
well being of children and young people up to age of 19


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