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Within late modernity, boundaries between adults and children have become even more contested" (Matthews et al. 2000). Discuss this quote, exploring the ways in which children are represented as becoming less child-like.

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Introduction

A popular field of study in sociology involves the transition of childhood into adulthood where sociologists are keen to explore the rate at which children are becoming less 'child-like' together with the increasing diminishment of childhood completely. An evident shift in the notion of 'childhood' has taken place in the past decade resulting in the breakdown of the boundaries between adulthood and childhood. Whilst a number of researchers including Postman (1983) and Winn (1984) argue that certain variables in today's society, such as technology, are facilitating the obliteration of 'childhood', this viewpoint is hotly disputed by a range of writers including Papert (1993) who instead suggest that technology is a means of children's liberation. This has lead to an ongoing debate where sociologists are deliberating the area within which the line falls between childhood and adulthood. The omnipresence of children has existed in society across both time and space; however the concept of 'childhood' is nevertheless a relatively recent phenomenon that arose within the seventeenth century. According to Aries (1960/1994), the Middle Ages held no collective perception of children as being essentially different to anyone else. He stated that once a child could "live without the constant solitude of his mother" he then "belonged to adult society". Children were seen and treated as "miniature adults", devoid of the childhood that today's society would now deem a 'genuine' and deserving childhood. ...read more.

Middle

Similarly, Katz (1997) considers the internet as a means of children's liberation as it provides them with an opportunity to escape the control of adults. Nonetheless, once a child obtains access to the adult world, he or she possesses the information and the ability to behave like one. For instance, employment is regarded as an adult pursuit however; it is acceptable for children as young as thirteen to maintain a job. Childhood is considered a stage of life where play and carefree pleasure should be indulged. During childhood, children should be cared for and protected from the adult world of work. However, contemporary society is preoccupied with the potential of the future and as a result, stresses the importance for the 'children of the future' to succeed. In doing so, children are subjected to strenuous schooling and pressure, either to earn money or succeed in life with a good occupation. In some countries children as sent to school at the age of four in order to ensure that they are successful. Children are now faced with much more responsibility that forces them to resemble the judgment of an adult. In addition, children receive underserved responsibilities and continual demands and pressures to 'grow up' and act their age when in fact children are essentially still 'growing up' despite finishing their education and moving on into the 'real world'. ...read more.

Conclusion

There are no longer any youth centres, or play areas where children can enjoy 'child-like' pursuits. As a result, children are forced to participate in adult activities where they are not readily accepted. This relates to aspects of control and respect amongst adults and children. As adults are increasingly losing control over children, children's respect for their elders is deteriorating rapidly. Matthews (2000) suggests that children today are 'less subsumed within an adult world of discipline and control' which is partly due to the fact that adults are more likely to recognize children as 'able, willing and reliable contributors within their own significant social contexts'. This is significantly different from the period where children were 'seen and not heard'. This demonstrates how childhood has evolved over time and the changes that have been made as to what is expected of a child. The concept of childhood has not always been present and as a result, the boundary between childhood and adulthood has never really existed. This is due to constant change that has occurred between cultures, history and society, causing the margin between the two phenomenon's to be blurred. It is apparent that children of today's society are increasingly becoming less 'child-like' and this is represented by various arguments stated above. Children have lost their special qualities as vulnerable, innocent and dependent which is demonstrated in a major shift in the character of contemporary childhood that now reflects the gradual 'disappearance of childhood'. ...read more.

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