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Examine the ways in which childhood can be socially constructed

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?Examine the ways in which childhood can be socially constructed.? By Sara-Beth Cartwright Sociologists see childhood as a socially constructed, which means that it?s something created and defined by society. They argue that the position that children occupy in society is not fixed, but differs between times, places and cultures. It is generally accepted in our society today that childhood is a ?special? time of life, and that children are fundamentally different from adults. There is a belief that children?s lack of skills, knowledge and experience means that they need a lengthy, protected period of nurturing and socialisation before they are ready for adult society and the responsibilities that come with adulthood. As Jane Pilcher (1995) notes, the most important feature of the modern idea of childhood is separateness. Childhood is seen as a clear and a distinct life stage, and children in our society occupy a separate status from adults. ...read more.


For example, they take responsibility from a younger age. Samantha Punches study in 2001 of children in rural Bolivia found that one children turned the age of 5, were working within their household and also their community, these tasks were being done without hesitation. Another example would be Child Soldiers, where children are expected to fight for their country, even though they aren?t physically or mentally ready for such traumatic work. There are many historical differences in how childhood was seen a social construct. Sociologist Phillip Aries argues that the middle ages, the idea of Childhood didn?t even exist. They were not seen as having a different nature or needs from adults. In the middle ages, childhood as a separate stage was also short. Soon after being weaned, the child entered wider society on much of the same terms as adults. ...read more.


The majority of sociologists agree that the process of industrialisation underlies many of the changes in the position of children. Modern industry needs educated people to work, and this requires the education of the young. So the introduction of compulsory schooling has helped society industrialise. Similarly, the higher standards of living and the decline in family size has lead to a decrease in infant mortality rates. This makes industrialisation the key factor to the modern idea of childhood and the status change of children. To conclude, I believe that childhood is socially constructed, as there are reams and reams of laws that condemn us to do things, and also many things which make us stressed, and worried (such as school)- something that we should not be when we are ?physically and mentally immature). Although I believe that children are well protected, and are extremely safe thanks to the law, the idea of education is too harsh, and causes an excessive amount of stress on children, who probably cannot even tie their shoe laces yet. ...read more.

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