families and households: couples

The Future Of Childhood

Disappearance of Childhood

1) POSTMAN: 'childhood is diappearing at a dazaling speed'

2) childhood no longer exists bcos of the change from print culture to television culture. 

he sees 4 trends towards the disappearace of childhood...

1. children are not superivsed playing traditional games.

2. children have the same rights as adults 

3. children are commiting more adult crimes: eg murder

4. children are wearing clothes that are simular to adults. 

  • in the middle ages, many people were illiterate... this means they only needed speech to participate in the adult world.
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Future of Childhood

Information Heirachy 

1) postman argues that the seperation between adults and children was bcos of the ability to read (literacy) which created an information heirarchy.

2) adults could keep information secret from children about issues such as: sex, violence + drugs bcos children cannot read.

3) bcos children cant understand this info they are seen as innocent + vunerable. (this is what makes childhood)

4) however, the growth of TV culture has blurred the line between adult + childrens knowledge.

5) children can understand information from the TV meaning the information heirarchy has been broken down.

6) children now have access to adult knowledge and so are no longer innocent + vunerable = disappearance of childhood.

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Future of Childhood


1) OPIE: argued against postman

2) she said that childhood does still exist.

3) she studied unsupervised childrens traditional games

4) she found that different types of technology influence (eg TV + print) can influence how childhood is constructed.

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Future of Childhood


1) Jenks argues that childhood does exist, but it is just changing. 

2) he agrees with Aries and says that childhood is a modern creation.

3) main feature of childhood is 'futurity' (importance of the future)... he said childhood was a preperation for getting ready for being an adult. 

4) in order to turn a child into an adult you have to change a childs vunerability, dependance + innocence through nurture + control (in the child centred family and education system) = to get them ready for the future. 


5) there has been a shift in childhood when moving from moderninity to postmoderninity

6) in moderninity: relationships are stable..

7) in postmodern society: change is happening fast = meaning relationships are unstable... causing increase in divorce = making people more insecure.

8) this insecurity means people cherish relationships with their children more (improves self esteeme) = this leads to more protection + control from parents 

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Has the Position of Children Improved?

March of Progress

1) childhood is improving... it is better than it has ever been before. 

this is bcos:

  • new child protection laws
  • healthcare specialists 
  • education specialists 

2) children are more valued, protected + educated. 

3) there are less children dying (lower infant mortality rate)

  • = 1900: infant mortality was 154 per every 1000 births
  • = now: infant mortality rates are 4 per every 1000 births
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Has the Position of Children Improved?

Child-Centred Family 

1) march of progress sociologists: argue that the family is becoming more child centred

2) this means that children are the 'focal' point of the family (they are no longer 'seen and not heard' like in victorian times')

3) families put a lot of emotional effort, money + time into their children. 

4) eg- by the age of 21 = cost your parents £227,000.

5) parents want their children to suceed in life and go furthur than they did.

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Has the Position of Children Improved?

Toxic Childhood


1) there has been a shift in childhood in the past 25 years that have had some negative effects. 

2) these are CULTURAL changes and changes in TECHNOLOGY. 

  • more video games 
  • parents working more 
  • more junk food

3) this has lead to the toxic childhood where childrens physical, intellectual + emotional is at risk

4) eg- international leauge tables show that british children are higher than average for obesity, slef harm and drug + alcohol abuse. 

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Has the Position of Children Improved?

Conflict View 

  • conflict sociolgists such as Marxists + Femenists belive that there are inequalities in society... they say that society is made up of 2 groups...                                                                              - the powerful... (marxists:bourgeoisie -femenists:men) and the                                                  - group that are being supressed...  (marxists: proletariat - femenists: women)

they critisise the march of progress view in 2 ways.... 

1) ignore the inequality within children: 

  • not ever child has access to the same oppertunities 
  • some children are more at risk than others 

2) ignore the inequalities between children + adults:

  • children are more controlled
  • children are opressed by adults 
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Conflict View

1) Inequalities within Children:

1) there can be inequalities within children depending on their nationality:

  • 90% of the world underweight babies are born in developing countries. 

2) there are some gender differences in inequality between children:

  • Brannen: did study of 15-16 year olds and found that asian parents are much more strict on their daughters. 

3) there can be some class inequalities between children: 

  • poor women are more likely to give birth to underweight babies = this can lead to having delayed physical + intellectual development.
  • being born into a poor family mean you are more likely to die in childhood, develope longterm illnessess + fall behind @ school. 
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Conflict View

2) Inequalities between Children + Adults

1) march of progress: argue that adults use their control over children in a good way.

  • eg- making child protection laws

2) however sociologists like Firestone: argue that adults use their power to control children.

  • eg- laws against children working have a negative effect on children bcos it means they cant provide for themselves (this is inequality) and so have to rely on the family for money = this means they are powerless and controlled.

Neglect + Abuse 

1) adult control over children can end up leading to children being neglected + abused by their parents. 

  • eg- ChlidLine gets 20,000 calls a year from a child saying they have been sexually/physically abused by adults. 

2) this shows that there is a dark side to the family where children are victims.

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Conflict View

Inequalities between Children + Adults 

Controlling Childrens Space:

1) in todays society adults control where children can go. 

2) shops can show 'no school children' signs which try to keep children out of their shop.

3) children are told by their parents to play in some areas... but they are not allowed to play in others. 

4) fears about road saftey + strager danger mean that more children are being driven to school rather than being able to walk alone. 

5) however... KATZ: found the Sudanese children can go wherever they want in the village + a few km outside of it.

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Conflict View

Inequality between Children + Adults 

Control over Childrens Time:

1) childrens daily routines are controlled by adults 

  • eg- when they go to sleeo, when they wake up, when they are fed, when they go to school

2) adults also control the speed that a child grow up at:

  • eg- what they wear + dont wear 'thats too old for you' 

Conteol over Childrens Bodies:

1) adults control what childrens bodies do:

  • eg- how they sit, walk run, their hairstyle, their clothes, whether they can get their ears pierced.

2) adults control what children are not allowed to do with their bodies:

  • eg- pick their nose, **** their thumb
  • (this is th opposite to the sexual freedom of the Trobriand Islands)
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Conflict View

Inequalities between Children + Adults 

Control over Childrens Access to Resources:

  • children cant work and so have limited access to resources... this means they stay economically dependant on adults. 

1) CHILD LABOUR LAWS + COMPULSORY SCHOOLING: mean that children can only do part time work for low wages. 

2) STATE PAYS CHILD BENEFIT: this payment goes to the parent not the child and so it doesnt affect the childs access to resources. 

3) POCKET MONEY: can be given out to children for 'good behaviour'... there is often limits on what the child can spend it on.

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Conflict View

Inequalities between Children + Adults 

Age Patriarchy:


- argues that there is an age partiarchy between adults + children (patriarchy means 'rule by the father' = the father is seen as the head of the family = rule of the family over children)

- evidence that children can find childhood as being a time when they are oppressed by adults was shown by HOCKEY + JAMES:

  • they came up with stratergies that are used by children to go against the 'restrictions' of being a child (that are put on them by adults)

1) 'acting up'- acting like adults.. doing things that children are not suppose to do (eg- swearing, smoking, drinking)

2) 'acting down'- behaviour like they are younger... doing things younger children would do (eg- baby voice, wanting to be carried)

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Has the Position of Children Improved?

The 'New Sociology of Childhood'

- this approach sees children as active agents who play a role in creating their own childhoods (not passive objects or 'adults in the making')

The Childs Point of View 


- says that the new 'sociology of childhood' approach aims to include the views + experinces of children themselves while they are experiencing chilhood. 

- she did a study of divorce: found that children had the most active role in trying to make the situation better for the family. 

- she used methods such as unstructured interviews which mean children can express their own views... they also allow the researcher to see it from their point of view. 

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