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Discuss the view that childhood is socially constructed.

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Introduction

Vicky Bourne Discuss the view that childhood is socially constructed. Social construction is the way that something is created through individual, social and cultural interpretations, perceptions and actions of people. Because the definition and state of childhood has not stayed the same throughout history and varies from culture to culture, it is not possible that childhood is biological, therefore it must have been socially constructed for a particular societies needs at a particular time. The roles of children have changed dramatically in the UK alone in the last four hundred years. Children from the pre-industrialisation era were economic assets to the family. It was vital that they helped provide for the family by working and earning a wage. As a result of their work they had little or no education, what they knew was taught by the family, they had a very different socialisation process than what it is familiar in today's society. The children were seen as adults and were actively involved in the adult world, they socialised with adults and were not shielded by activities that would now be deemed unsuitable. ...read more.

Middle

This caused the roles of children within the family to change, this was because the family was more child centred and the children were more emotionally valued. This caused a child culture to emerge. In the mid 1900's children were starting to be targeted as consumers, products were made especially for children. They no longer dressed like mini-adults, and ranges of toys and food were produced to appeal to the youngster. This is a stark contrast from the less developed countries; In Eastern Africa there is a colony of people called the 'Ik', in this culture children are seen as a burden and the adults hope they would die so they would have one less mouth to feed. By the time the child turns three years old they are thrown out of the home. In 2002 the UN announced a protocol to end the recruitment of children in the armed forces, but some countries in Asia and Africa have violated this. ...read more.

Conclusion

In England a person can get married at the age of sixteen with parental consent but they cannot vote until they are eighteen. This is very conflicting because marriage is associated with adults. In Turkey a person can get married at the age of fourteen, the ages of doing a particular activity vary from place to place. The most unclear country is America because each state has it's own rules and guidelines. I have come to the conclusion that the state of childhood is socially constructed because of the huge variations between each country today. There are immense numbers of children still working in less developed countries whereas in western culture children are in full time education until they reach the age of sixteen, where they can make a decision to carry on learning. This is because in western society children are not needed to work which is where the difference lies with that of children in places like Africa, this comes back to the meaning of socially constructed. Throughout time childhood has adjusted to meet societies needs which is why four hundred years ago children in England would have been working instead of being in full time education. ...read more.

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