The ‘Modern Western’ view of childhoodThe child is fundamentally different from adults: – Immature – Incompetent – Lack skills, knowledge and experience – Need protection & socialisation – Innocent
Pilcher, 1995 Cildhood is a clear and distinct life stage, reflected in:• Laws• Dress• Products and services• Age of innocence – vulnerable, need protection• Sphere - Family and the education system.• Activity - Leisure and play.
SOCIALLY CONSTRUCTEDChildhood is not a biological stage ofimmaturity or a natural state.Childhood is something created and defined bysociety.What is meant by childhood, and the positionthat children occupy in society, is not fixed oruiversal.It differs between different times, places,groups and cultures.
FIRTH (1963)Pacific Island of TikopiaChildren are allowed todo dangerous thingswhen THEY feel ready.e.g. Fishing in the opensea and handling sharpobjectsObedience to adults is aconcession rather thanexpected
The spiritual and political ruler of Tibet through the years. First as a four-year-oldpeasant child about the time he was chosen Dalai Lama, as a 15-year-oldwearing a gold peaked cap that is his crown and during a 1956 visit to India.
THE IK OF UGANDAsuffer famine• The Ik Tribe• view children as a drain on resources.• They think they should be made to fend for themselves as soon as they possibly can. This may mean from the age of 3.
Cross Cultural Experiences of ChildhoodBenedict, 1934, [comparative approach] . 3 distinct differences between modern ‘western’ What differences have you children and children from simpler, non industrial identified between your societies meanings and experiences of – Earlier Responsibility (Holmes – Samoa) childhood and those in other - – Less Obedience to Adult Authority (Firth Tikopia) societies? – Sexual Behaviour (Malinowski – Trobriand Islands)
TOWNSEND et al (2003) Study of 46 developing countries 1.2 million children:-• Over 33% of the world’s children live in absolute poverty• Over 33% of all children live with more than 5 people per room• 134 million children aged 7 – 18 have never been to school• Over 375 million children have no access to water• Many children live in countries affected by civil wars• Children in developing countries are more at risk from infectious diseases – typhoid, malaria.• Every day 3000 people in the developing world will die from malaria – 2225 will be children• 500,000 children under the age of 18 have been recruited as child soldiers
Historical context• We tend to think of childhood as a special time• We tend to think of children as vulnerable beings who must be taken care of• We tend to think of parenting as an important job that must be done wellHowever:-This has not always been the case
Childhood is a recent inventionAries (1962) Used paintings to explore childhood in pre-industrial societies and argues that once weaned, children were simply considered ‘little adults’ and an economic asset. High infant mortality rates encouraged indifference and neglect. • Can you see any problems with Aries methods? • Can you see any problems with his conclusions
Pre- industrial society C10- C13th [Aries]• Same work – fields & home• Same clothes• Same leisure• Same rights• Same skills• Same punishments• No distinction in law An accurate view?
Beginnings of childhood C13 – C18 [Aries] • Public schools for rich children • Church – children in need of protection & discipline • 17th century U/C boys dress
INDUSTRIALISATION C18- 19th• Widespread child labour• M/C focus on children• Campaigns against child begging, delinquency & prostitution
INDUSTRIALISATION C18-• C19th – Mines & 19th Factory Acts• 1870 compulsory elementary schooling• Children should be seen and not heard• Child specialists – paediatricians• A right to happiness
REASONS FOR CHANGES IN THE POSITION OF CHILDRENTrobe P311. Laws e.g. employment, rights, social services, minimum ages.2. Schooling3. Demographic changes – family size, infant mortality4. Medicine5. Mass media*6. Economic changes
MIND MAPMake a mind map which briefly explains & illustrates the following info: 1. Childhood as a social construction 2. Child-centred society 3. 3 characteristics of modern child hood 4. 3 ways in which child hood differs in different societies 5. 3 ways in which childhood has changed 6. 3 reasons for changes in childhood 7. 3 pieces of evidence you could use to support the idea of childhood as socially constructed
EXAM PRACTICE1. Explain what is meant by ‘child hood is a social construction’ (2)2. Suggest 2 ways in which childhood has become a specially privileged & protected time of life (4)3. Suggest 2 ways in which the position of children could be said to have improved in the last 100 years (4)
Answers1. Shaped by culture/created by society – not natural or biologically constructed.2. E.g. – Not allowed to work in paid employment until 13. – Laws to protect children from abuse e.g. The Children Act3. E.g. – Access to education – Improved health - immuniasation
Methods in ContextDesign an interview schedule for use with children to find out about LSE TIPS their health and well-being.Think about:− The age group− The language you will use− The types of questions you will ask− Where & how the interview will be conducted− The ethical issues & how you will deal with these
HOMEWORK - RESEARCHPrepare to teach one of the following topics, including: description, illustration and evaluation the following views:• The March of Progress View (Aries & Shorter)• The Conflict View (Marxists & feminists)• Disappearing Childhood (Postman)• Toxic Childhood (Palmer)
DEBATE‘CHILDREN IN TODAY HAVENEVER HAD IT SO GOOD’
The functionalist view of childhoodFunctionalists view childhood as acrucial process in the modern family.It is when the young person issocialised into being a useful memberof society.This involves the child learning thenorms and values of their culture.As society becomes more complex thetime spent completing this processlengthens
The Marxist view of childhoodCapitalists need people to buy the goods itproduces.Bocock (93) claims modern childhood facilitatescapitalist goals by creating new consumers.According to the Marxist perspective this is whywe have a new construct of childhood In thewestern world – children are ‘consumers’.Give examples – what do teenagers buy
The Marxist view cont…This view of childhood explains one of theanomalies that sociologists have noted.There are regular moral panics regarding childpornography while at the same time we allowchildren of 14 to model provocative clothes andthere is a growing market for fairly provocativegirls clothes and underwearWrite half a side of A4 to explain thisusing Marxist ideas outlined above
ConclusionArchard (1993)‘In our common sense thought childhood is basedupon a notion of separateness from adulthood.Children are not adults they are separate from adultsand need to grow up to be able to join the adultworld. Children must be protected from the adultworld and at the same time taught how best to fit intoit.’ BUT…Is this the same for ALL children?
Quick Review• Social construction • Postman• Child centred • Palmer• March of Progress• Age patriarchy • Opie• Child liberationist • Aries• Acting up/down • Hockey & James• Toxic childhood • Bonke• Information hierarchy • Bhatti• Globalisation • Howard• Disappearing childhood • Pilcher• Continuing childhood • Townsend
USING SOCIOLOGYAs experts in childhood.You have been asked toadvise the governmenton policies affectingchildren – laws,education, welfare, mediacontrols, healthguidelines etc.What advice would yougive and why?