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What is Childhood?

  • Childhood changes over time and space and is a socially constructed concept
  • We are moving towards child centered society
  • Aries - studied paintings of children in the middle ages, he notes childhood did not exist as children were mini adults with the same legal right, duties and expectations
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History of Childhood

  • 13th Century: schools increading wanted to protect children from evil 
  • 17th Century: growing distinction between adults and childrens clothing especially in the upper classes
  • 18th Century: handbooks on rearing children are issued
  • 1800's: children become financially dependent on their parents
  • 1880: introduction of compulsory schooling
  • 1889: prevetion of cruelty to children act
  • 1989: UN convention develops the rights of the child: to be educated and protected from abuse, parents are made responsible
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March of Progress vs. Conflict

  • Llyod de Mause believes childhood is emerging from a nightmare and coming into much better positions as society develops
  • Children can no longer work and get to experience a period of freedom


  • Children are abused, sexually, emotionally and physically
  • Children have no control over time and space, this is all restricted by their parents
  • Other socities do not follow the same rules, child soldiers
  • Children's choice in education is very restricted 
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Disappearance of Childhood

  • Postman - childhood is disappearing at a dazzling speed
  • There is free access to information from a young age which blurs the line between childhood and adulthood
  • Palmer - toxic childhood
  • No interaction with the family, poor sleep patterns, decline in emotional security, unhealthy food and lack of natural surroundings
  • Increase in ADHD, substance and self abuse
  • Sexualised childhood
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