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AS SOCIOLOGY REVISION

I S CHILDHOOD A SOCIAL CONSTRUCT


Jane Pilcher: Childhood in western industrialised societies is distinct from adulthood, it is a clear construction of society. Children lead lives of pleasure and leisure, they are excluded from paidwork. Childhood in the western society is seen as the Golden age of innocense. Adults are seen as having a responsibility to protect the innocense of childhood.

Stepehen Wagg: Childhood is not univeralistic, it is found in many societies but is not the same, depends on laws, cultures and attitudes. This supports the idea that childhood is socially constructed built by the society in which it is in.

Ruth Benedict: Argues how different childhood is in non-industrialised societies. The notion of childhood is completely different, hence we can argue childhood has been constructed differently here. There are many ways in which we can show that childhood is socially constructed. Children do not live lives of pleasure and leisure as identified by Pilcher in western societies. Instead they take on responsibilities from an early age. For example in Bolivia. There is also less value placed on the obedience of children by adults. Lastly, adults take a tolerant and an amusement view of children cohering to sexual activities. This notion of childhood interprets childhood to seem more mature. Children are no longer seen as the innocent.

Phillipe Aries: Argues that historically, childhood did not exist. Children wore the same clothing as adults. Children and adults played together. Children took part in paid work, in other households.

There is no clear disctinction between children and adults in this society. Children even faced the same harsh punishments adult criminals did. Shorter: Parents also had a different attitude historically in the middle ages, they often took a careless indifferent approach to their children. Naming newborn babies after their formerly fallen siblings, referring to their young as it. Etc. Phillipe Aries: Although there was no childhood during the middle ages, the notion of childhood began to derive post middle age period. Aries argues we can see this because from the middle ages onwards, children began to wear different clothing from adults. Schools were introduced for children to begin attending. Lastly, books were also published on parenting and children, this can only suggest childhood was coming into existence. With this we can argue childhood is not socially constructed, because childhood did not exist, historically at the least. We may argue that childhood might have been socially constructed post middle age.

Linda Pollack: Criticises Aries ideas. She argues that childhood had always existed, those people historically simply had a different notion of what childhood was. But that does not mean childhood did not exist. Idealy, Aries did use paintings to analyse childhood historically, we can criticise his findings on the basis of whether he found out how childhood really was, or how childhood was from the painters interpretation. However the concept of childhood existing or not is quite subjective. Some sociologists might argue that if society identifies childhood in a way that seems to be adulthood, we might argue in that society childhood does not exist at all. Yet, if childhood is distinct from adulthood, only slightly different amongst societies, we can forward the idea that childhood is indeed socially constructed.