childhoodthroughtheages-130320085955-phpapp02

childhoodthroughtheages-130320085955-phpapp02 - Childhoo...

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Childhoo d Another major issue within the Sociology of Families & Households is that of childhood. There are 3 main issues that must be examined within this topic: > Childhood as a Social Construction > The changing position of children in families & society. > The future of childhood. Your learning objectives for this topic are as follows: > To understand why childhood is seen as a social construction > To know the reasons for these changing constructions (particularly in contemporary society) > To be able to analyse & evaluate different views of the position of children today. > To be able to analyse & evaluate different views of the future of childhood.
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The Social Construction of Childhood Throughout many societies (particularly western societies) it is assumed that children need a lengthy, protected period of time of nurturing and socialising to prepare them for ‘Adult’ society. Make a table with the following headings: Childhood Teenage Adulthood Old Age
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Pilcher (1995): ‘Modern Childhood is defned through Separateness’. It is a clear, distinct life stage separate from adults i.e. in terms of status. In what ways are children and adults ‘separate’? Childhood is often viewed as a ‘Golden Age’, an age of innocence. As such, many societies see childhood as a period of life that requires protection and ‘quarantine’ from adult life. Can you think of any evidence of this? Wagg (1992): ‘Childhood is socially constructed. It is in other words, what members of particular societies, at particular times & in particular places, say it is. There is no single universal childhood, experienced by all’.
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Cross-Cultural Differences in Childhood: Childhood used to be treated differently in pre-industrial societies in 3 ways: Ruth Benedict (1934) 1) More responsibility at an earlier age. Punch (2001) points out that in rural Bolivia that 5 year-olds are expected to take work responsibilities in the home. 2) Less value placed on obedience to adult authority. Firth (1970) found that the Tikopia of the Western Pacifc believe that children are well within their rights to dismiss orders from parents . Parents must earn the child’s respect. 3) Sexual Behaviour is Viewed differently Malinowski (1957) found that the Trobriand Islanders (South West Pacifc) were tolerant of children’s sexual explorations.
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Historical Differences in Childhood: Aries (1973) argues that our ‘contemporary’ notion of childhood did not emerge until the 16 th & 17 th centuries. Prior to this it was not really a distinct time of life.
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