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Childhood as a social construct:

Sociologists believe childhood is defined and created by society. They believe Childhood varies:

-Between societies

-Within societies e.g. between different classes


Cross-cultural differences in childhood

Benedict (1934)- argues that children in non-industrial societies are treated differently from children in the western world:

-They have more responsiblity at home and work

- Less value is placed on obideince to adult authority

-Childrens sexual behaviour is viewed differently

The behaviour expected of children and adults is less clearly seperated.

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Historical differences in childhood

Position of children differs over time

Aries (1960)-idea of childhood doesn't exist:

-Children were not seen as having a different 'nature' from adults.                 -Work began from an early age.

-Children were 'mini-adults' with the same rights duties and skills as adults.

Shorter (1975)-Parental attitudes towards children were very different: high child death rates encouraged indifferenceand neglect towards infants.

The modern notion of childhood-13th century

-Schools began to specialise only in education of the young.

-The church increasingly saw children as being fragile 'creatures of God' needing discipline and protection of worldly evils.

-There was a growing distinction between children's and adults clothing-seperating children from adults.

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