Social construction of childhood continued…. Historical differences in childhood. This PowerPoint is to help review and revise the idea that childhood changes over time. It will also look at why modern childhood came about and the future of childhood.
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Historical differences in childhood • This PowerPoint is to help review and revise the idea that childhood changes over time. It will also look at why modern childhood came about and the future of childhood. • Childhood changes over different places, however it also differs over time. • Many sociologists and historians have examined changes in childhood and many argue that childhood as we know it, is a relatively recent phenomena.
Philippe Aries (1960) • Philippe Aries is a historian and he argued that in the middle ages, the ‘idea of childhood did not exist’. • Children were weaned, however once they were passed the stage of being physically dependent on the parents, they were seen to be adults. • Children began work at a very early age , they were seen as ‘mini-adults’ with the same rights, duties and skills as adults. • For example – the law often made no distinction between children and adults with children facing severe punishments.
Philippe Aries continued… • Aries looked at various evidence to illustrate his points. • He used works of art from this period • In these paintings he argued that children appeared without ‘any of the characteristics of childhood’, they were simply shown on a smaller scale. • These paintings showed children and adults dressed in the same clothing and working and playing together. • He argued that parts of the modern idea of childhood came about after the 13th century. • Edward Shorter (1975) argued that parental attitudes towards children was also very different. He argued that high death rates encouraged indifference and neglect. Often, children were called ‘it’ or forgotten about.
Why did modern childhood come about? • There are many reasons why the modern idea of childhood came about. These are some of them… Industrialisation – society now needs an educated workforce Child protection acts (1989 Children Act) Laws restricting child labour Laws that apply specifically to children i.e. Age of consent is 16 Reasons for the development of modern childhood Development of economic market directed at childhood Introduction of compulsory education
The future of childhood • There is an argument that childhood as we know is disappearing. That the distinction between adulthood and childhood is narrowing. • Neil Postman (1994) – He argues that childhood is ‘disappearing at a dazzling speed’. • He looks at the trend towards giving children the same rights as adults, the growing similarity of adult and children’s clothing and even cases of children committing ‘adult crimes’ (murder, rape). • He suggests that in the middle ages most people were illiterate (can’t read or write) so there wasn’t this mystery surrounding adulthood as children could access it through speech. • Postman argues that childhood emerged along with mass literacy. This was because the printed word created a division between those that could read (adults) and those that couldn’t (children). • HOWEVER, he argues now that things like television and the internet blur this separation and that children are now able to access the ‘adult world’. • He has been criticised for over-emphasising television as a cause for the disappearance of childhood, whilst ignoring other factors like changes in the law.