The modern western notion of childhood
- Pilcher notes, the most feature of the modern idea of childhood is seperateness
- Childhood is seen as a clear and distinct life stage, children in our society occupy a sperate status from adults
- This is emphasised in several ways, for instance through laws regulating what children are allowed, required or forbidden to do
- Their differences are also emphasised through dress, products and services; such as toys, books, entertainment and play areas
- Stephen Wagg - 'Childhood is socially constructed. It is, in other words, what members of particular societies, at particular times and in particular places, say it is. There is no single universal childhood, experience by all. So, childhood isn't "natural" and shouldn't be distinguished from mere biological immaturity'
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Cross cultural differences in childhood
- Samatha Punch's study of childhood in rural Bolivia found that, once a child is 5 years old, they are expected to take work responsibilities in the home and in the community.
- Holmes found in their study of a Somoan village that 'too young' was never given as a reason to why a child couldn't undertake a task.
- Raymond Firth found that among the Tikopia of the western Pacific, doing as you were told by grown ups is regarded as a concession to be granted by the child, not a right to be expected by an adult.
- Malinowski found that the Trobriand Islanders of thw South west Pacific adults took an attitude of 'tolerance and amused interest' towards children's sexual exploitation and activities.
- Benedict argues that in many non-industrial cultures, there is less of a dividing line between the behaviour expected of children and that expected of adults.
- Such evidence illustrates the key idea that childhood is not a fixed thing found universally in the same form in all human societies, but is socially constructed and so differs from culture to culture
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