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Topic 2 ­ CHILDHOOD:

Childhood as a Social Construct:

Pilcher (1995) notes that the most important feature of modern childhood is
`separateness' from adulthood ­ it is seen as a clear and distinct LIFE STAGE.
Children in our society have a different status to the adults and have different

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church, which increasingly saw children as `fragile creatures of God' in need of
protection and discipline from worldly evils.
o Clothing: Children and adults began to dress differently. By the 17th Century,
an upper-class boy would wear something `reserved for his own age group'
which would set him apart from…

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o There are inequalities AMONG CHILDREN in terms of opportunities and risks
as many are still unprotected and poorly cared for.
o There are inequalities between CHILDREN AND ADULTS and they are greater
than ever before: children today are being more greatly controlled, oppressed
and are therefore increasingly dependent upon…

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when they play. Therefore, they control the speed at which a child `grows
up'. They decide if a child is old enough nor not, and this contrasts with
Holmes' findings among Samoans ­ `too young' is never given as a reason
not to let a child perform a task.

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age. Childhood was not a concept; there was no division between a child's
world and an adult's.
o Childhood emerged with mass literacy: there was suddenly a division between
the adults who could read and the children who could not. This meant that
adults could keep knowledge of sex, death,…

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Young people's behaviour has also raised concerns ­ Margo and Dixon (2006)
reported that the UK's youth are at or near to the top of the international league
tables for obesity, self-harm, substance abuse, under-age sexual activity and teenage
Such observations induce an anxiety that childhood as an innocent…


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