revision topic 2

TOPIC 2: CHILDHOOD

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CHILDHOOD AS A SOCIAL CONSTRUCT
Sociologists see childhood as socially constructed, (created and defined by society)
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Childhood and the position children occupy in society are not fixed and differs between times, places and cultures which is evident in the western society today compared to the past and other societies.
THE MODERN WESTERN NOTION OF CHILDHOOD
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Children are regarded as physically and psychologically immature, and not competent to run their lives. Children need protecting nurturing and socialisation to develop skills, knowledge and experience to be ready for adult society.
PILCHER: most important feature of the modern idea of childhood is seperateness, childhood is a clear and distinct lifestage and have a seperate status from adults
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emphasised by laws that allow, require or forbid children to do, their differences from adults is emphasised through dress, products and services, toys, food, books, entertainments and play areas etc.
children as a 'golden age' with happiness and innocence, however innocence highlights vulnerability mkaing them have to be protected and quarantined from the adult world and lead lives of leisure and play.
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this view of childhood as a seperate-age status is not featured in all societies. WAGG desscribes it as a mere bioogical immaturity
whilst all humans go through the same stages of physical development different cultures construct/define this process differently.
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Western cultures define children as vulnerable and unable to fend for themselves, other cultures do not see much difference between childhood and adulthood.
CROSS-CULTURAL DIFFERENCES IN CHILDHOOD
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looking at the social construction of childhood by taking a comparitive approach looking as children in time and place to the now.
BENEDICT: argues that the children in simple non-industrial societies are treated differently to modern western societies in three different ways.
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~they take responsibility at a young age - PUNCH supports this with her study of rural bolivia, where children had to work in the community and at home at the age of 5. Same with HOLMES study of a samon villiage where 'too young' was no excuse if a
child thought he could handle it the job was his.
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less value is placed on the child who shows obedience for adult authority for an example doing what you are told be an adult is a concession given by the child, not a right expected by the adult
childrens sexual behaviour is viewed differently.
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HISTORICAL DIFFERENCES IN CHILDHOOD
ARIES argues that children that in the middle ages 'the idea of childhood did not exist' children were seen to share the same nature and needs as adults once they had passed physical dependency during infancy.
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childhood in the middle ages a s a seperate age status from adults was short, once weaned the child entered wider society like an adult.
children we bought up with the same rights and duties as adults and learned the same skills, the children were seen the same by law as adults and suffered same severe punishments.
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Parental attitudes were also different - SHORTER argues that high death rates created indifference and neglect especially toward infants it want not uncommon for newborns to be given the name of a recently dead sibling or be referred to as 'it'
ARIES says that modern childhood emerged after the 13th century, schools who taught adults also become to specialise in the educating of the young, the influence of the church saw children as fragile 'creatures of god'
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a growing distinction of clothing to differ children from adults, evident in upper class a boy would have a dress of his age group.
in the 18th century handbooks to teach adults about children, families and child centeredness were available.
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ARIES: 'we have moved from a world where childhood wasnt seen as special to a world that is obsessed with childhood describing the 20th century as 'the century of the child'
REASONS FOR CHANGE IN THE POSITION OF CHILDREN (changes during the 19th&20th century)
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~laws that restrict child labour and exclude children from paid work ~introduction of compulsory schooling in 1880 had an effect especially on the poor also the raising of the school leaving age has raised the length of dependency
~1889 prevention of cruelty to children act, and a decade later the 1989 children act leading to the 2004 childrens act making the welfare of the child paramount. ~children having rights such as the protection from abuse, the right to participate in
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desicions that affect them such as custody cases
declining family size and low infant mortality rates, which cause parents to invest financially and emotionally more in the children they do have.
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childrens health and development became the subject of medical knowledge.
DONZELOT observes the theories from the 19th century of a childs development as to why they need supervision and protection.
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;aws and policies applicable specifically to children, ranging from sex to smoking.
industrialisation is also key factor causing the change to modern childhood.
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HOW HAS THE POSITION OF THE CHILDREN IMPROVED?
THE MARCH OF PROGRESS VIEW
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The march of progress argues that over the past centuries, western societies has seen the improvements in the childs position more than ever.
MAUSE says this paints a dark picture of the past, the father you go in history the more likely the levels of mistreatment toward children is heightened.
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ARIES and SHORTER have a march of progress view, arguind that childhood has progressed from previous generations by having more value on them, better care prtoection, education and health also being given more rights
children today are oritected from harm and exploitation, in 2007 the government spent 64 billion on their education. higher health care standards has decreased the infant mortality rate with a contrast of 1900s 154 per 100 and now's 5 per 1000.
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higher standards of living and smaller family sizes means that childrens needs can be more focused on, the march of progress sociologists believe that families have become child-centered, children are consulted in decisions wheras they use to be
'seen and not heard' great investments in them financially and emotionally, even society, media and leisure activities are designed specifically for children.
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THE CONFLICT VIEW
conflict sociologists marxists and feminists dispute this march of progress view. arguing society is based on conflict between social groups, classes or genders. These groups have diffrent levels of power, status and wealth.
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these conflict sociologists believe that the march of progress view of modern childhood is based on false idealised images. Criticising it by two inequalities:
Inequalities amongst children in terms of opportunities and risks they may face, many remain unprotected and badly cared for. inequalities between children and adults is greater than eve, children are under greater control, oppression and dependency.
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INEQUALITIES AMONG CHILDREN
children of different nationalities are likely to experience different childhoods to eachother and have different life chances. 90% of the worlds low birth weight babies are from third world countries.
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gender differences; HILLMAN boys are more likely allowed to cross and cycle on roads, use buses or go out after dark unaccompanied BONKE found that girls do more domestic chores than bores especially in lone parent families where they do 5 times more
ethnic differences; asian parents were more likely than other parents to be strict on the daughters
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class differences; poor mothers likely to have low birth weight babies which leads delayed physical and intellectual development WOODROFFE children born to labour skilled parents are more likely to suffer hyperactivity and conduct disorders e.g ADHD
HOWARD children born into poor families are more likely to die in infancy, to suffer longstanding illness, so be short, to fall behind in education or be put on the child protection register.
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INEQUALITIES BETWEEN CHILDREN AND ADULTS
march of progress writes argue that adults use their power for benefit and protection for children. HOLT AND FIRESTONE criticise this saying it is new forms of oppression and control.
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NEGLECT AND ABUSE
adult control ove children can take the form of physical neglect or physical, sexual and emotional abuse figures gathered by childline and children on the child protection registers indicates a dark-side to family where children are victims.
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CONTROLS OVER CHILDREN'S SPACE
shops may display signs that say 'no school children'. children are forbidden to play in certain areas and are told where to play in others. Surveillance over children especially in shopping centres during school hours. fears about road safety
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and strangers has lead to parents driving children to school. HILLMAN found that 80% of 7-8 year olds traveled without supervision in 1971 in 1990 this fell to 9%.
in third world countries children of this age are allowed to roam freely for miles in and outside their village.
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CONTROL OVER CHILDREN'S TIME
children are given routines, when they have to get up, eat, go to school, come home, go out, play, watch tv and sleep. the parents also control how fast the child grows up by their decision on what activities they can and cant do.
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CONTROL OVER CHILDRENS BODIES
control of a child should sit, walk. run what they should wear, their hairstyles and whether not they can modify their bodies. childrens bodies can be touched indecently by adults. Children are told to not **** their thumb or pick their nose.
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CONTROL OVER CHILDREN'S ACCESS TO RESOURCES
children dont have the opportunity to earn money in full time jobs due to compulsory schooling, the state gives child benefit but it goes to the parent not the child, pocket money for good behaviour and restrictions may not allow them to buy things
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THE FUTURE OF CHILDHOOD
are children becoming more powerful? is childhood disappearing?
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THE DISAPPEARANCE OF CHILDHOOD
POSTMAN argues that childhood is disappearing at dazzling speed. Giving children the same rights as adults causes the dissapearance of childrens traditional unsupervised games, the similarity of childrens and adult clothing children committing crimes
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in the middle ages most people were illiterate, and speech was the only skill needed to participate in the adult world children entered this world from a young age and there was no distinction between adults and children.
from the 19th century childhood emerged as a seperate status printed word creates an information hierachy, a division between children who can read and adults who could. Adults had the power to hide knowledge about sex, money, violence, illness and
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death away from children; childhood was then associated with innocence and ignorance
television destroys the information hierachy blrring the difference between adult and childhood ignorance and innocence of children is replaced with knowledge and cynicism due to lack of skills needed to access tv.
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opie criticises postmans theory explaining that research into childrens games, rhymnes and songs suggests there is evidence of existance. Also that postman said there is a disappearance of childrens games, opie contradicts arguing children have their
own games they create and independent culture.
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CONTRADICTORY TRENDS-THE RECONSTRUCTION OF CHILDHOOD?
PALMERcalls childhood today 'toxic childhood' arguing about technological and cultural changes in the last 25 years such as junk foos, computer games, intensive marketing to childre, growing emphasis on testing in education.
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MARGO and DIXON'S study that the UK's youth is at the top of league tables for self-hamr, obeseity, drug and alcohol abuse and teenage pregnancies.
womack however explains how some aspects of childhood suggests its changing but some seperates children from adults such as children are given more rights but do not have them equal with adults, compulsory education has been extended,
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Other cards in this set

Card 2

Front

Childhood and the position children occupy in society are not fixed and differs between times, places and cultures which is evident in the western society today compared to the past and other societies.

Back

THE MODERN WESTERN NOTION OF CHILDHOOD

Card 3

Front

Children are regarded as physically and psychologically immature, and not competent to run their lives. Children need protecting nurturing and socialisation to develop skills, knowledge and experience to be ready for adult society.

Back

Preview of the front of card 3

Card 4

Front

emphasised by laws that allow, require or forbid children to do, their differences from adults is emphasised through dress, products and services, toys, food, books, entertainments and play areas etc.

Back

Preview of the front of card 4

Card 5

Front

this view of childhood as a seperate-age status is not featured in all societies. WAGG desscribes it as a mere bioogical immaturity

Back

Preview of the front of card 5
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