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Discuss the view that childhood is a Social Construction?

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Discuss the view that childhood is a Social Construction? The social construction of childhood means that childhood is not natural because it is a concept that has different meanings in different societies. Sociologists agree that children are biologically different to adults but every society gives these biological differences different meanings. Aries, a interactionist says that the 19th century Britain, before industrialisation children were seen as mini adults because they dressed like their parents and did the same work on the farm as their parents. Aries says that after industrialisation, children became different to adults because children had to go to school between the ages of 5 and 11 and so children were financially dependent on their parents until the age of 11 when they were allowed to go to work and this period of dependency created the concept of childhood. ...read more.


Modern industrial society needs skills and so children have to stay in education to get their skills, usually well past the age of 16 and while children depend on their parents they can be classed as children. However, in many societies children do have an economic role because they start work from a very early age. For example, feeding children and weeding and in these societies there is no concept of childhood and so childhood must be a social construction. Marxists say the concept of childhood benefits the bourgeoisie because the bourgeoisie need a well-educated work force. They need children to stay in education for as long as possible. The bourgeoisie benefit from the ideology of the 'responsibility of parents' which means that parents feel that they have to pay the ...read more.


However, more than a quarter of children in Britain live in poverty so their childhood is without treats and with a poor diet is very different to the childhood of a middle class child in Britain. Oakley, a feminist says that childhood of a girl is very different to a childhood of boys. Girls play with dolls, help with housework, and are encouraged to be neat and clean but boys are encouraged to get dirty playing sport and they play with cars and construction toys and are given much more freedom to explore. The childhood of boys are girls are therefore socially constructed in a different way. In conclusion, childhood is socially constructed. The experience of childhood even in Britain is not the same; much depends on gender and social class. Not all societies in the world have a concept of childhood, which shows that childhood is socially constructed. ...read more.

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