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Evaluate the claim that childhood as we know it is a creation of the 20th century.doc

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Evaluate the claim that 'Childhood as we know it is essentially a creation of the 20th century'. The claim that "childhood as we know it is essentially a creation of the 20th century." is led by Phillippe Aries, a French historian, he carried out detailed studies of the developing nature of childhood and family in France and England from pre-modern to modern times. He suggests that childhood, as we know it, meaning the idea of a "child" individuality, separate from adults is basically the creation of the 20th century. His argument was that in previous times children were effectively "miniature adults," and were treated as such. Historical sociologists pointed out how in the past games and play were not separate childhood activities but things in which adults engaged in too, and that they took interest in dolls houses and dresses, and model soldiers. Childhood is actually something, which is exclusive to our own culture and times. ...read more.


This was probably due to high infant mortality. One quarter or more infants did not survive their first year compared with less than one per cent of infants in the West today. Stone argues a similar view he suggests that pre-industrial families were a unit of production working on land or occupied in crafts together. Children were prepared to help parents from a very young age. Those who did not help with household production usually left to become servants or apprentices. After industrialisation there is some evidence that these attitudes towards children continued, especially in the working class where children were repeatedly found to be increasing family income by working in factories, mines and mills. The middle-class attitudes towards children started to change in this period, when there was a growth in parental and marital love in middle-class families and as infant mortality rate started to fall, although there was a growth in the authoritarian power of fathers. ...read more.


E.g. the 1980 Child Care Act gives importance to the "wishes and feelings of child". The Support Act (1991) re-emphasises that the principal concern of the state should be the child. Recent emphasis put the importance of the authorities listening to what children themselves say about experiences and necessity. They stress that there should be a partnership between local authorities and parents to protect the welfare of children. Some children have recently used the Act to divorce their parents. Others have also "forced" separate parents to see them more. The 20th century is seen as the century of the child in the UK. Social attitudes towards children continue to be positive. Children are seen to be in need of society's protection, although society in the form of the mass media is often seen as threat to psychological well being of children. The responsibility of children is firmly located in the family and supported by the state in terms of legislation. Women in particular are largely viewed responsible for children's welfare. Sociology of childhood is surprisingly lacking in research about Experiences. ...read more.

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