Child Hood


Childhood is not a natural state or a biological stage, it is a social construction.

The history of childhood in the UK can be delivered into three stages:

· Pre industrial (pre 1760)

· Industrial (1760 onwards)

· Modern onwards(1960 onwards)

Philippe Aries

· Studied ‘centuries of childhood’

· He used secondary data – art

· He said ‘children were a natural companion of the adult’

Ø 1819 century- Children were working in mines and factories

Ø 1870-1880- Education act said all children in Britain must go to school.

Ø 19/20th century-‘this is the century of the child’-factory and mining laws – children were banned from working.

Argue –in some countries children are still economic assets eg. Child soldiers.

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Wendy Stainton Rogers-

· She looked at the social construction of childhood in 20th century Europe.

· She identifies two images of childhood-

1) Innocent and wholesome-this suggests the child should be protected from everything nasty and protected from adult concerns.

2) Wicked and sinful

· Both images ‘co-exist’ the exits together. They have a long history and continue to the present day.

The first view of innocence suggest venerable. The children act 1989 states that

‘When a court determines any question with respect to the upbringing of a child....the child’s welfare shall be the child’s paramount consideration’.

The second view assumes that children are unable to control their anti-social tendencies. They therefore need relegation and discipline. This view is reflected in education policy.

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Nick Lee(2001)-

· Lee has seen a change in social construction of childhood towards the end of the 20th century

· He claims that for most of the century adults and children were seen as fundamentally different kinds of humans.

* Adults were stable and complete

* Children were unstable and incomplete

· Adults had become ,children were becoming.

· In the early 21st century ‘growing up’ is no longer seen as a journey towards personal completion and stability. This is because adulthood is no longer complete and stable.

· Adult relationships are increasingly unstable- high divorce rate.

The line between adulthood and childhood is becoming ‘blurred’ and uncertain.

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Neil Postman(1983)-

· Postman claims childhood is coming to an end.

· He claims childhood is only possible if children can be separated and protected from the adult world.

· Without secrets there can be no such thing as childhood.

· Children since late 20th century have become a major economic force in western societies.

Nice lee v.s Neil postman.

Nick lee criticises postman claiming that childhood has not disappeared but has become complex.

Nick lee says there both dependent and independent making the dual dependent.

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