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The modern western notion of childhood

1. Childhood is a special time of life and children are fundamentally different from adults

2. Jane Pilcher (1995): Most important feature of childhood is separateness

3. Emphasised through: Laws, Differences from adults, The way they dress, Products and services

4. 'Golden Age'-Children are seen as vulnerable and in need of protection from the dangers of the adult world

5. Wagg (1992): Childhood is socially constructed; childhood isn't natural 

6. Western cultures=children are vulnerable+unable to fend for themselves

Cross-Cultural differences in childhood

Ruth Benedict (1934):

1. They take responsibility at an early age

2. Less value is placed on children showing obedience to adult authority

3. Children's sexual behaviour is often viewed differently

The globalisation of the western childhood

1. Western norms=Nuclear Family+school+children are innocent+dependent+vulnerable+have no economic role

2. Campaigns against child labour

Historical differences in childhood

1. The position of childhood differs overtime

2. Aries (1960): Middle Ages children could not be distinguished from adults

3. The child entered adulthood as soon as they learned about the norms and values of their society

4. Aries used artwork to illustrate this period of time

5. Shorter (1975): High death rates=encouraged indifference+neglect; especially towards infants

The modern cult of childhood

Aries the gradual recognition of childhood:

1. School

2. 17th Century: Classes are distinguished and are separated

3. 18th Century: Handbooks on childbearing

4. 'Cult of childhood'

5. Pollock (1983): Society in the Middle Ages had a different notion of childhood from today's society

6. His work is valuable as it shows how these changes have varied overtime

Reasons for changes in the position of children

1. Laws

2. Compulsory schooling

3. Child protection+Welfare 

4. Children's rights

5. Family size 

6. Medical knowledge

7. Laws+policies

8. Industrialisation

The future of childhood

The disappearance of childhood

1. Postman (1994): Childhood 'Disappearing at a dazzling speed'

2. The trend towards giving children the


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