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Are the lives of children 'socially constructed

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Introduction

Are the lives of children 'socially constructed?' What are the implications of this question for work with children and families? In this essay I aim to look at social construction within childhood. How childhood differs according to time and place. This essay will give clear examples of the concepts of how childhood has changed historically and varies from culture to culture. I will discuss how the implications of social construction affects working with children and families. Many of us consider childhood as a universal feature in human life, which we consider a natural stage of development. Culturally the social construction of childhood is extremely diverse. Freedom from responsibility experienced by children in Western countries is not in others especially developing countries. In most western societies it is a widely held belief that children are fundamentally different than adults. However, in many other countries, children are viewed as more independent and there is an expectation that children will work alongside their parents and contribute to the household income. In Khalpur in India, by the age of nine or ten, girls learn to do most of the tasks carried out by adult women, such as gathering berries and making mats, baskets and clothing (Whiting and Whiting quoted in Topic Two p12) ...read more.

Middle

Although many agreed with Aries other historians such as Shahar argued that his evidence was limited to that of wealthy households and the view of a child being different to that of an adult continues further back in history that Aries suggests. An example of this is the opposing concepts within Christianity of a child being born as either innocent or of original sin. This notion is derived from the Judaeo - Christian belief of Adam and Eve, where the belief was children had inherited a sinful nature and were in need of redemption and discipline in order to be saved. Break their will betimes: begin this great work before they can run alone, before they can speak plain, or perhaps speak at all ... make him do as he is bid, if you whip him ten times running to effect it ...Break his will now and his soul will live, and he will probably bless you to all eternity. (Wesley, quoted in Reader,Foley p.28) It was not until the 18th century Western culture began to see a new view of childhood. Philosopher Rousseau in his largely influential book Emile published in 1972 wanted to protect the innocence of the child, believing it was the child's right to be a child. ...read more.

Conclusion

The discourse of control is based on the theory of original sin and children should be controlled and disciplined. The two discourses in turn have influenced policy and practice towards children. The discourse of welfare informs the Children's Act 1989, which allows intervention where a child is seen to be at the risk of harm and the discourse of control informs education policy imposing compulsory education and strict regulation of the material being taught. Although the majority of time the two discourses can co exist well alongside each other conflicts can arise. Even though each discourse has its own set of professional bodies they can sometimes find the two competing discourses confusing and stressful and can leave employees sometimes failing. This in turn is highlighted by the media and leaves the Government under immense pressure to tighten their policy and procedures leaving it even harder for workers within health and social care Even today childhood is not seen as a universal stage of human life. Variations over time and culture are dramatic. Historians such as Aries and Rousseau had a profound impact on Western society and their beliefs on childhood and how children should be perceived and treated. This in turn has shaped the policies and practices for those working with children and their families. ?? ?? ?? ?? Shyrl Smith P.I- X1555880 Course - K204 TMA01 1 ...read more.

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