masterclass childhood pp 1 by 305dJrAJ


									The Social construction of childhood

          An Introduction
•   This PowerPoint is to help review and revise the
    idea of the social construction of childhood.

    Social construction – An idea/notion that has been
     created and defined by society.

 Sociologists argue that the idea of childhood is a
  social construction. Other ideas could also be said
  to be socially constructed like health and illness,
  deviance etc..
 For example – The idea of what is deviant (deviance
  means behaviour that is considered against
  society’s norms and values) changes over time and
  from society to society. So sociologists would argue
  that it’s not natural but socially constructed. For
  example, men wearing skirts in England is often
  seen as deviant behaviour, however in other
  societies it would not be.
        The social construction of childhood

• Sociologists are interested in changes
  in childhood and the position of
• Sociologists see childhood as socially
  constructed, something that is created
  and defined by society.
• They argue that what people mean by
  childhood, and the position that
  children occupy in society, is not fixed
  but differs between different times and
• How sociologists can investigate this is
  by examining childhood today, in the
  past and in other societies.
          The modern western idea of childhood
• In our society it is generally accepted that children are distinctly
  different from adults and that childhood is seen as a special time of
  life that should be protected from the ‘adult world’.
• There is an idea that children are vulnerable and not capable of
  looking after themselves, so there is a period of life needed
  (childhood) to nurture and socialise them.
• Jane Pilcher (1995) – She suggests that the most important feature
  of the modern idea of childhood is separateness. That childhood and
  adulthood are very separate stages of life.
• This is shown in several ways, one of them being laws that are set
  out to regulate what children can and can’t do.
• Their differences are also shown through clothes and products that
  are specifically for children (entertainment, books, food etc).
            Cross-cultural differences in childhood
•   This view of childhood as a separate stage is not
    found in all societies. It is not universal (found in all
•   Stephen Wagg (1992) – He argues that although
    all humans go through the same stages of physical
    development, different cultures construct or define
    them differently. So different societies see these
    stages in different ways (childhood is not the same
    in all societies).
•   So other cultures don’t necessarily see a huge
    difference between children and adults. An
    example are ‘child soldiers’ (children who from an
    early age are expected to fight in wars, behaving
    like adults)
•   Ruth Benedict (1934) – She argues that children
    in similar non-industrial societies are generally
    treated very differently to western children. They
    take responsibility at an earlier age. Less value is
    placed on children showing obedience to adults.
    Children’s sexual behaviour is often viewed
        Cross cultural differences continued…
•   Lowell Holmes (1974) – Studied a
    Samoan village and found that children
    were often involved in dangerous tasks,
    their age was not a factor.                     Childhood is different
                                                    all over the world
•   Raymond Firth (1970) – Studied the
    Tikopia, in the western Pacific and
    discovered that there wasn’t much value
    placed on children obeying adult authority.
    This is different to western societies
•   Bronislaw Malinowski (1957) – Studied
    the Trobriand islanders of the South-West
    pacific. He discovered that children’s sexual
    behaviour was viewed very differently to
    western industrial societies.
•   All this cross-cultural evidence suggests
    that childhood is not a fixed thing found
    universally, but is socially constructed and
    so differs from culture to culture.

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