Western notion of childhood
Childhood is seen as a separate golden age of happiness and innocence.
Children are seen as vunerable and need protecting from the dangers of the adut world - laws/dress/products designed especially for them (toys)
Childhood as a social construction
Childhood is socially constructed- created and defined by society. Thus childhhod changes with relevance to time, place and culture.
Cross cultural differences
- Children take responibility from a young age- in Bolivia children work from 5.
- Less value placed on child obedience- Tikopia adults do not expect children to be obedient
- Childrens sexual behaviour varies- western pacific adults take amused interest and tolearnce towards childrens sexual experiences.
Historical differences (Aries) 10th to 13th century childhood did not exist
- same laws applied to children and adults- e.g children could recieve same puishemnts as adults
- dress- children woud dress like adults
- No specific toys and games existed for children
changes in the position of children (industrialisa
(during 19th and 20th centuries)
- Child labour laws- restricting children from paid work making them economically sependent on parents
- Compulsory schooling and the raising of school leaving age- extended period of economic dependency on parents
- Child protecion legislation- e.g. Un 1989 rights ofthe child. Rights in healthcare, education, protection from abuse etc.
- Minimum age laws- e.g. sex and smoking laws to protect children from adult life
- Lower child and infant mortality rates-parents more willing to make emotional/financial investments in children
- Impact of mass media- childre hace access to same information as adults through TV/internet (supports argument that childhood is disappering)
Childhood has improved
March of Progress view- childhood has improved
- Better educated- £64 billion spent on education in the UK each year
- Protected from abuse- child abuse laws
- More child centered- no longer 'seen and not heard' are often focuspoint of families and are consukted on decisions
- Media and leisure activities cateer for the needs of children
AO2- :( idealised image of childhood- ignores the dark side of childhood (abuse/bullying/divorce etc)
childhood has not improved
conflict view- childhood has not improved for all children (variability)
Inequaities between children
- Gender differences- feminists argue that girls do more domestic labour than boys
- Ethnic differences- Asian parents are more likely to be overl strict and restricting
- Class differences- Marxists argue that working class children are more likley to suffer infant mortality rates, poor living conditions and low levels of educational success.
- International differences- Childhood and lfe chances vary across the world e.g. child sodiers and poverty
childhood has not improved
Inequaities between children and adults
Adults do not always use their power to protect children istead they dominate- age patriarchy (Liberationists such as Firestone)
- Space and movement- restrictions on places chldren can play/ cctv in schools- in Sudan children are free to 'roam'
- Time- adults contol daily routines and speed chidren grow up- Samoa children never too young to do adult tasks
- Bodies- adults contol how children sit/dress/hairstyles/piercings - western pacific children have gerater secual freedom
- Neglect and abuse- physical/sexual/emotional abuse
AO2- :( Adult intervention and control is necessary to safeguard children who cannot make their own decisions
Disappearance of childhood
Postman- period of childhood is shortening as children are growing up too quickly and losing their innocence.
- Disappearcne of childrens unsupervised games
- Growing similarity of children and adults clothing
- Children committing adult crimes e.g. gun and knife crime
- Underage sex, drinking and smoking
Palmer- childrens physical, emotional and intellectual development is being damaged by junkfood, computer games, over testing in schools etc.
The UK is low in surveys of childrens well being- concerns exist about obesit,self-harm, drug and alcohol abuse etc.
Reasons for disappearance of childhood
Postman- suggets that technology and the media have eroded the boundary between childhood and adulthood- TV and the internet have allowed children to gain adult knowledge too quickly. So they are exposed to the real world of sex, disaster,death and suffering.
AO2- :( Not all children are equally affected by the above changes- it is mainy children from lower social classes.
Childhood is not disappering
Opie- children still have thier own independent separate culture.Games, rhymes and songs children grow up with often unsupervised by adults.
Liberationists- oppresive western paterns of childhood are spreadinf throughout the world. International agencies campaign for a separate where children should be seen as innocent,vunerabe, in need of protection and have no economic role (campaigns against child labour and rasing awareness of 'street children')