Children growing up too quickly and loosing their innocence Evidence: Underage drinking, sex and smoking Teen pregnancy Children wearing adult clothing Children watching adult TV, films and playing violent computer games TV and Internet are readily available and children can access ‘adult’ material and grow up too quickly. However it could also be argued that with the correct parental supervision children can still remain children longer
De Mause (1974) “ The history of childhood is a nightmare from which we have only recently begun to awaken. The further back in history one goes, the lower the level of childcare, and the more likely children are to be killed, abandoned, beaten, terrorised or sexually abused”
Conflict View ‘ March of Progress’ view is false Society is based on conflict There are inequalities between children – risk and care, many remain unprotected Inequalities between children and adults – experience greater control, oppression and dependency, not care and protection
What does this say about childhood? Why do you think this has happened?
ChildhoodThe future …
• What do we know about Childhood so far?• Social Construction• Changes from Medieval to Now• Introduction of Laws etc
Age PatriarchyAdult domination/ control and childdependence.
Childhood• If the idea of children’s rights is gaining ground, could this be a sign that children are becoming more powerful and the distinction between adulthood and childhood is breaking down?• Is childhood as we know in western society disappearing?
The death of Childhood: Postman (1994)• Childhood is disappearing at dazzling speed.• Children are given the same rights as adults.• Traditional childhood games have disappeared.• In an extreme case, children are now committing adult crimes, like murder.
ActivitySuggest 3 examples of ways in which children’s activities,leisure, dress or food and thoseof adults have become similar in recent years…
Page 351. What is the printed word?2. What is the television world?3. Why has the rise in the television world made childhood disappear?4. What is a criticism of Postman’s study?
The Print Culture • 19th Century • Printed world created a hierarchy: children cannot read as much as adults. • This gave adults the power to keep knowledge of sex, violence and other adult topics secret from children. • Childhood became associated with innocence and ignorance.
The Rise of Television Culture • Television is blurring the distinction between childhood and adulthood by destroying the information hierarchy. • Children do not need special skills to access it. • Adult authority is diminished and children are no longer ignorant and innocent – but are knowledgeable and cynical (distrusting). • Has adulthood disappeared to?
Criticism• Postman- the over emphasis of the single cause (TV) at the expense of other social factors that have influenced the development of childhood (such as the rising standards of living and changes in the law).
• Postman has also been criticised for overstating his case: – Childhood is a long way from disappearing – Children have become a major economic force: • Taste in consumer goods have a major influence on what is produced and purchased (Buckingham, 2000)
A Separate Childhood Culture: Opie (1993) • Childhood is not disappearing. • Childhood games are still evident and there is strong evidence of a separate children’s culture. • This study shows that children can and do create their own independent culture separate from that of adults.
Globalisation of Western Childhood • Western notions of childhood are being globalised. • Western norms of childhood: • A separate life stage • Based in the nuclear family and school • Children are innocent, dependent and vulnerable and have no economic role.
Third World Countries • Campaigns about childhood and concerns about street children. • Reflect what westerners think childhood ought to be like. • However, it is the norm in those countries and is important preparation into that culture and adult life.
So …• In this view, ‘childhood’ is not disappearing but is spreading through the world.
Your Task (page 36)• A reconstruction of childhood, some sociologists say this exists others disagree• What are the views?• Include: • Palmer (2006) • Dixon (2006) • Womak (2007) • Qvortrup (1990)
March of Progress View• Argues that over the past few centuries the position of children in Western societies has been steadily improving and today it is better than it has ever been
March of Progress View• Aries has a March of Progress View – Children are more valued – Better care – More protection – Better educated – Better health – More rights• Think about the IMR as well• Family has become child centred – Society has also become child centre
Read through Conflict View of Childhood (page 32) Summarise Key Points
Plenary• How do you think childhood will evolve in the years to come?• Do you think the gap will blur or will it get further apart?
What is childhood now??• Palmer (2006) – toxic childhood – Computer games, junk food, long work by parents have damaged children’s development
What is childhood now?• Margo & Dixon (2006) – UK youth are at or near the top of international league tables for obesity, self harm, drug abuse, violence, sexual experiences and teenage pregnancies. – 2007 – UNICEF survey ranked UK 21st of 25 for children’s well being
Essay Plan• Examine the reasons for changes in the position of children in the family and society – (24 marks)
Essay Question• Assess sociological explanations of changes in the status of childhood – (24 marks)• Examine the reasons for the change in the status of children since industrialisation – (24 marks)• Examine the reasons for changes in the position of children in the last 200 years – (24 marks)• Assess the view that childhood is not a fixed universal experience – (24 marks)
Questions1. Explain what is meant by the social construction of childhood2. Benedict identifies three ways in which childhood in non-industrial cultures often differs from childhood in the west. State two of these3. Why are children less of an economic asset to their parents today than they were in the past4. Give one example of class differences between children5. What is age patriarchy?6. Why does Postman believe childhood is disappearing?
Answers• 1. What is meant by ‘childhood’ differs between societies and depends on time, place and culture.• 2. Children take responsibility at an earlier age: less value placed on them showing obedience; their sexual behaviour is often viewed differently.• 3. Because they cannot work, even part-time, until they are at least 13 years old.• 4. Among poorer children these are more likely: low birth weight; delayed development; higher infant mortality rates; longstanding illness; hyperactivity and conduct disorders; falling behind at school; being on the child protection register• 5. Adult domination/ control and child dependence.• 6. Because television is destroying the information hierarchy between adults and children and giving children access to knowledge that hitherto only adults only possessed