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Childhood Essay

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Examine the extent of and the reasons for changes in the position of children since industrialisation. Before the 1600, children of 5years belonged to the adult world. They were considered to be adults and there fore must make their way in the world like adults, by working. Toys for children did not exist, and they were considered economic assets, rather than a symbol of peoples love. They were also criminally liable, meaning that they could be hung at the age of 7 for theft. In this time period there was no childhood after 5 years of age. Social construction means when something has been created by society. Children could be said to have been created by society in the pre 1700, and Neil Postman (1977) ...read more.


Especially for the children of the poor (middle-and upper-class children were already receiving education) the rising of the school leaving age has extended this period of dependency. Child protection and welfare legislation, such as the 1889 prevention of Cruelty to Children Act. Exactly a century later the 1989 Children Act made the welfare of the child the fundamental principle underpinning the work of agencies such as social services. Another very important reason is the growth of the idea of children's rights. For example, the children act defines parents as having 'responsibilities' rather than 'rights' in relation to children, while the united nations convention on the rights of the child (1989) lays down basic rights such as entitlement to healthcare and education, protection from abuse and the right to participate in decisions that affect them, such as custody cases. ...read more.


This shows us that children have less control over their own bodies and their resources. Their parents have the control over them now. Adults exercise enormous control over children's bodies, including how they sit, walk and run, what they wear (sun hats, make-up, glasses). Although the state pays child benefit this goes to the parent not the child which is another classic example of how children are controlled by adults. Most sociologists agree that the process of industrialisation, the shift from agriculture to factory production as the basis of the economy, underlines many of the above changes. For example, Morden industry needs an educated workforce and this requires compulsory schooling of the young. Similarly the higher standards of living and better welfare provision that industry makes possible lead to lower infant mortality rates. Industrialisation is the thus a key factor in bringing about the modern idea of childhood and the changed status of children. ...read more.

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