sociology

The modern cult of childhood

Aries - Gradually begin to emerge from the 13th century.

  • Schools - Specialised in educating the young, reflecting the influence if the church - children are 'creatures of God'
  • Children's clothing - By the 17th century, an upper class boy would be dressed in 'an outfit reserved for his own age group, which set him apart from the adults.
  • Child rearing literature - By the 18th century, hand books on Child rearing were widely available - growing child-centredness of family life.
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Cross-cultural differences in childood

Ruth Bendict(1934) - Children is simpler, non-industrial societies are generally treated differently to their western counterparts in three ways:

  • They take responsibility at a young age - Samantha Punch (2001) found that children in rural Bolivia found that once children were about 5 years of age they were expected to take work responsibility.
  • Less value is placed on children showing obedience to authority - Raymond Firth (1970) found that the Tikopia in the western pacific, doing as you are told by an adult is not seen as right, but something the children will grant.
  • Children's sexual behaviour is viewed differently - Across the world the age of consent can vary, but in most cases it is 16 - 18. However, there are some countries, such as Brasil, where the age of consent is 14.
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The Globalization of Western childhood

Sociologists argue that western notions of childhood are being globalised.

International humanitarian and welfare agencies have exported and imposed on the rest of the world, western norms of what childhood shoud be - a seperate life stage, based on nuclear family and school, in which children are innocent, dependant and vulnerable, and have no economic role.

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Reasons for change in the position of children-cha

  • Law's restricting child labour and excluding children from paid work.
  • The introduction of compulsory schooling.
  • Child protection and welfare leglisation.
  • The growth of the idea of children's rights.
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The March of progress view

Aries and Shorter - argue that today's children are more valued, better card for, protected and educated, enjoy better health and have more rights. March of progress sociologists argue that family has become child-centred.

Palmer (2007) - 'Toxic childhood' - rapid tech and cultural changes in the past 25 years have damaged children's physical, emotional and intellectual development.

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Neil Postman (1994)

  • Childhood is dissapearing at a dazzling speed
  • Shows the trend that giving children the same rights as adults relates to the growing similarity between adults and childrens clothing and even to cases of children commiting adult-like crimes.
  • Cause of the first emergance of childhood and its dissapearance is due to the fall and rise of print culture and its replacement with T.V culture.
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Iona Opie (1993)

  • Argues that Childhood is not dissapearing 
  • Along with her Husband she argues that there is strong evidence of the continued existence of a seperate children's culture over many years.
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Christopher Jenks (2005)

  • Does not believe childhood is dissapearing but believe it is changing.
  • Childhood is seen as preperation for childhood.
  • Children are vunerable and in need of protection.
  • Childhood is changing as society becomes more modern.
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