Sociology 305 - Midterm

Sociology 305 - Midterm - Servin 1 Martha Servin Dr...

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Servin 1 Martha Servin Dr. Sternheimer Sociology 305 13 October 2009 Midterm When I was a Child. . . I can distinctly remember my parents starting off with “when I was a child. . .” anytime they wanted to teach me a lesson through their childhood experiences, sacrifices, and lifestyles. I did not realize then what I realize now – compared to my childhood, my parents’ lives were strenuous, demanding, and oppressive. They did not have the pleasures of toys, the amenities of hot running water, and the joys of frolicking. My father worked long, grueling hours to help support his single mother and eleven siblings. Although my mother completed secretarial school, she had the obligation of managing school and meeting her guardian’s expectations of domesticity. Being taught to be a good wife and mother was harsh as she had to learn the “proper” way to cook, clean, and serve. No room to complain, no room to resist, and no room to seek other options. Mexico did not afford them many options, so they did what they knew. That was their way of life. Today, as a Mexican-American, I also echo my parents’ sentiments – “when I was a child. . .” – to educate my children how well life is for them with all the up- to- date conveniences and technological advances. Looking back to the experiences of the early- American child to those of children in the twenty-first century, history will reveal the factors that have contributed, altered, and defined the social construction of childhood. First, one can better understand the deviances in the social construction of childhood by looking at the social change throughout history. Historians Paula S. Fass and Mary Ann Mason
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Servin 2 maintain that the direction of children changed along with the shifting need of their era (48). From early on, children were valued as contributors versus sentimentality. In early America, children worked, mostly farming, lacked education, and responded the household and sibling responsibilities. Although the Colonial period demanded of children through their labor in the agrarian field, Zelizer mentions that boundary shifts in child labor changed the experience of childhood. Farm work was still decreed appropriate work for children during the 1900s, as long as the work was overseen by parents and did not interfere with school (7). During the Industrial Revolution, children continued to contributor with their labor; however, life would soon bring privileges. For example, as the need for more machines grew so did the focus on education for children. Growth in cities and middle class leads to changes in the way children were viewed by parents and society. This resulted in defining and legitimizing acceptable child labor and establishing boundaries to protect the child. Certain jobs were considered to be influential over others – such working as a cash handler in a department store, jobs that disturbed Senate duties, day messengers, and selling newspaper were among the most esteemed work for a child (6-7). On the contrary, streets work for child was defined as those delivering newspapers or working as
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Sociology 305 - Midterm - Servin 1 Martha Servin Dr...

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