#22 Childhood

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  • Created by: Muy
  • Created on: 15-04-13 23:49

Social construct

  • Definition of childhood varies between societies + within societies e.g. classes and historically
  • BENEDICT argues children in non-industrial societies had -
  • -> more responsibilities
  • -> less value on obedience to adult authority
  • -> the behavior expected of children and adults wasnt as clearly seperated
  • The modern Western notion of childhood views it as a special innocent stage in life, they are physically immature and unfit to run their own lives... therefore needing nurturing and socialisation
  • Different cultures construct childhood differently
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Historical differences in childhood

  • Aries argues in medieval Europe childhood didnt exist, they worked at an early age + seen as mini adults
  • Shorter believes this is due to high infant mortality
  • Modern childhood emerged in 13th century with education of the youth + the church seeing children as innocent and fragile
  • WHY? modern industrial society requires an educated workforce
  • Social changes is the prominent reason
  • -> lower infant mortality means fewer children thus more emotional investment
  • -> development of childrens health stresses that they require greater supervision
  • ->  legislation banning child labour in 1840s, compulsory schooling in 1880s which seperated them from adult work
  • -> child protection laws and the idea of childrens right e.g. Childrens Act 1989
  • -> legislation regarding behavior e.g. minimum ages of activities such as sex
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Childrens positions improved

  • March of progress agrees as children are better cared for, infant mortality has decreased, higher living standards + legislation protects children
  • Marxists and feminists disagree as third world children have different life chances compared to Western children... these differences include - 
  • -> Gender differences such as girls do more housework
  • -> Ethnic differences such as Asians are stricter towards daughters
  • -> Class inequalities such as poor children do worse at school
  • Firestone argues extensive care of children are new forms of oppression -> banned from paid work is a form of inequality, leading to more control HOWEVER he ignores how many adults use their power to protect children 
  • AGE PATRIARCHY - Gittins argues adult domination subordinates children such as bed times... Also children are economically dependant... Such dominant control can lead to child abuse (30,000 registered on child protection)
  • Hockey and James note children may resist status of 'child' e.g. by smoking
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Future of childhood

  • Postman argues childhood is disappearing e.g. acting similar to adults, this is due to television culture replacing print culture 
  • Postman over-emphasises a single factor ignoring others e.g. legal changes
  • -> Print culture - children lack literacy skill to access information so adults keep secrets from them such as death
  • -> Television culture - informations accessable by both, so adult authority is broken
  • OPIE notes childrens culture still exists e.g. jokes, CBBC
  • Palmer argues tecnological changes are damaging childrens development e.g. excessive gaming and junk food
  • UK youth are top for obesity, self harm and teenage pregnancies in Europe
  • NONETHELESS children aren't equally effected, higher social classes children have better standards of living
  • Variety in childhood depends on education age limit, childrens rights, and concerns of exposure such as media displaying sex and violence
  • Lee concludes childhood is more complex, e.g. children are important consumers yet rely on their parents for purchasing
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