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Examine the ways childhood can be said to be socially constructed.

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Introduction

´╗┐Examine the ways childhood can be said to be socially constructed. A thing which is socially constructed has been created by society. Childhood can be seen as socially constructed as it differs between cultures, religion and location. Therefore, childhood is not universal but constructed by society and in our culture, many different factors contribute to this construction. A key sociologist to look at when examining the ways in which childhood is socially constructed is Aries. Philippe Aries in the early 1960?s made a startling claim that ?the idea of childhood did not exist?. Aries believed the concept of childhood is a relatively modern one; one that has only developed over the past 300 or so years. In this respect, whilst there were clearly "young people" around, they were not labelled as "children", nor were they treated in ways that we, nowadays, would recognise as "childhood". ...read more.

Middle

We now see childhood as a protected and special time, where childhood is a separate life stage to adulthood. As a culture we protect children, we nurture them and give them education. In Aries view of medieval childhood, this was not around. There are many factors for this change. For example, there is now compulsory education for children as well as it being illegal for a child to be in full time labour. Therefore, childhood has to be different as this is not allowed anymore, children won?t be working but instead they?ll be in school. We are in a different society now where it is the norm for children to spend a considerable amount of their time in education. It has been shaped in that way by society and so in this sense, childhood has become a different social construction. ...read more.

Conclusion

There are also major inequalities of power between adults and children know as the age partriarchy. However, on further examination of the age patriarchy argument, it has a critical flaw. It does not consider how the social construction we currently have, where children need to be protected can actually require an adult?s power in a beneficial way. For example, it does not take into consideration the ways adults use their power to make laws that protect children from harm. Therefore, it is not fair to say that childhood?s social construction makes children have a worse experience. We can clearly see that childhood has changed from a different construction. In the past from Aries work where children were mini adults to now. Whether or not children have it better in this social construction, such as suggested by the march of progress view, or worse is down to personal opinion. ...read more.

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