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Examine the ways in which childhood is socially constructed.

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Introduction

´╗┐Examine the ways in which childhood is socially constructed. In this essay I will be discussing whether childhood is a social construct or whether it is universal. This social construction is I a result of society, labeling and identifying a phase of life and giving the meaning to behavior during that phase.These constructions will different depending on the time, culture, gender and class. The opposite is true to those which believe childhood is universal as they believe childhood is acknowledged as a separate stage in every society across the world. There are cross-temporal variations in childhood. This is when our understanding has changed over time. Aries a march of progress theorist provided evidence for this. He argued ?In medieval society the idea of childhood did not exist.? In the medieval paintings that he had analysed, he identified that there were clearly young people around, but they were not labelled as children nor were the treated in ways that we, nowadays, would recognise childhood. In medieval England wealthy children were permitted to carry swords and those who were poorer carried sticks for protection. ...read more.

Middle

Adults acknowledged that their children had certain personalities and rights. These relationships were less authoritarian and far more supportive than is typically the case in modern societies. Trobriand children were encouraged to explore and discover their sexuality. British society, on the other hand, tends to be more child-centred, seeing children as the property of their biological parents. Child-rearing is focused on the nuclear family group and parents are responsible for much of the social control of their off-spring. Culture constructs the way children are reared there is no universal way of raising children so it can be argued that childhood isn?t universal. This argument proves that childhood is socially constructed to an extent as adults encourage sexual exploration; this means consent first has to be permitted. Some sociologists suggest that childhood has improved over time, whilst others suggest children today are heavily controlled by society. March of progress theorist believes childhood has changed for the best and that the social construction is positive and is there for protection. Those who oppose against March or progress theorist are conflict theorist. ...read more.

Conclusion

She illustrated that childhood is socially constructed as it changes with the time and with technology but the social construct is slowly removing childhood as a stage overall. This can be seen as children no longer have separate fashion to that of a grown-up; designers have made even infant clothing fashionable consisting of occurring trends. This argument shows that the social construction of childhood has now lead to the absence of childhood, but this also proves that children lead to social construction. One may argue that childhood is socially constructed as it isn?t a universal process. In some societies it is obvious that children don?t have distinct stages in life. In China for example children work in sweat shops manufacturing clothes. Regardless of your belief on childhood it is obvious there are important distinctions within childhood regardless of the social construct, as girls weren?t given swords in medieval days and the poor weren?t provided with adequate protection. This occurs today as females are generally more socially restricted than males. This shows that childhood is social construct however it ends in a matter of years, other social constructs such as gender and ethnicity remain. Monique McPherson ...read more.

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