The position of children differs over Time as well as Between societies, and Within societies. Sociologists believe that childhood as we see it today was a relatively recent 'invention'.
Middle ages:- 'the idea of childhood did not exist' Children were simply seen as mini adults.Hence expected to take on adult roles and responsibilities as soon as physically able to.
Shorter '75 argues that ill health and high death rates encouraged indifference and neglect towards children.
Elements of the modern notion of childhood appeared gradually from the 13th century onwards. Things such as child clothing, emerged into the market. By the 18th century handbooks on how to rear children were widely available which steered society into child centred life. (Particularly among the middle classes)
Mid 19th Century:- Child Labour was common practiceand widely accepted. Children began work at age 7, and most factory workers were children under 11. Children often faced the same punishments as adults within the work environment and the notion that they deserved special protection did NOT EXIST. In this time children were 'SEEN AND NOT HEARD'
Aries argued that the 'social construction of childhood' is linked to industrialisation. Worked moved outside the family home and restrictions were put on childlabour this isolated children from the real world of 'adult work'. People began to see that better educated people would lead to a better work force so schooling was put in place.
Evaluation of Aries...
Linda Pollock (1983) believes aries is wrong, she believes that it is more correct to say that in the middle ages, there was simply a different notion of childhood.
Aries' work is helpful however, as it demonstrates that childhood is socially constructed. It dos this by showing how ideas and social status of children has varied over time.
Reasons for the changes in the position of children...
Laws restricting child labour
The introduction of compulsory schooling (1880)
Child protection and welfare legislation
The growth of the idea of childrens rights
Declining family size and lower infant mortality rates
Children's health and development (Medical advances)
Laws and Policies that apply specifically to children (age restrictions)
Many sociologist believe industrialisation underlies most of these changes.
What is 'Social Construction'?
Social construction is when something is created by a social process, rather than simply occurring naturally. A socially constructed thing is likely to vary historically and culturally.
Modern Western Notion of 'Childhood'
Chilhood is a special time of life, and children are protected, and depend on their parents.
Jane Pilcher (1995) believes the important feature of the modern idea is seperateness. Childhood is seen as