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Childhood . Definition . ‘A State, which is both socially, and biologically constructed’ The period of time where a person has not yet reached adult status. Arguments . Arguments as to whether it is biologically constructed or socially constructed

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‘A State, which is both socially, and biologically constructed’

The period of time where a person has not yet reached adult status

  • Arguments as to whether it is biologically constructed or socially constructed
  • Arguments as to whether it is historically constructed or not
  • Arguments that childhood is culturally specific
  • Functionalists argue that childhood should be explained in a biological sense
  • Children have and always will be passive
socially constructed
Socially Constructed
  • Interactionist argue that society makes up our idea of childhood
  • Childhood is dependent on time and culture you are in
  • Types of acceptable behaviour, length and how children should be treated are all evidence of this
historical arguments
Historical Arguments
  • Aries ’62 – childhood did not exist in medieval Europe
  • Used diaries, letters, other documents and paintings of the time to emphasis this
  • Children were depicted as little adults, involved in adult activities such as sex, fighting and work
aries cont
Aries Cont……………
  • The emergence of the modern child:
    • Began in 16th century with Upper Classes and education
  • Working classes still involved in child labour
  • Early industrialisation saw children in factories etc
  • 19th century introduction of various laws stopped this
  • Introduction of laws stopped children being treated as adults
  • Factory Acts prevented children from a certain age working
  • Education Acts ensured children up to a certain age were educated
  • 20th century childhood now applies to all classes
always been around
Always been around
  • Pollack – used diaries between 16th and 20th century. Found childhood did exist because children were subject to physical and emotional abuse
  • Cunningham – Renaissance art portrayed children as innocents
  • Functionalists and Psychologists – mental and physical developments should play a key part
contemporary cross cultural differences
Contemporary Cross-Cultural Differences
  • Eidenstadt: Childhood is socially constructed and therefore culturally specific
  • Bilton – childhood is experienced differently in the Western world compared to the East.
  • Western world has childhood, Eastern world still sees children working in factories
evidence cont
Evidence Cont….
  • Malinowski – Trobriand Island children are much freer sexually
  • Turnbull – The Mountain People similar to Ik tribe, children could survive even when abandoned
  • Firth – Tikopia Island Tribe – carried out dangerous tasks when they/adults felt they were ready
decline of childhood
Decline of Childhood?
  • Lee – 20th century notion of childhood was that of unstable and incomplete humans.
  • Move to 21st century no longer complete when we reach adulthood, still sense of uncertainty
  • Adults are becoming more like children
  • Children have increased rights – children have more say over what happens to them
  • Notion of childhood has disappeared
  • Childhood can only occur if they are separated from adults
  • Merging of roles, children have rights, access to same levels of media
  • Boundaries have blurred
childhood is still here
Childhood is still here
  • Childhood is a long way from disappearing
  • Now a major economic force – clothes, toys, food etc
  • Buckingham – children have a major say on what is produced and purchased
  • Lee – not disappeared become more complex and ambiguous
  • Although can have a say what they want, they are still dependent on parents purchasing power