Examine the ways in which childhood is socially constructed.

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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. This shows in the present day we believe giving children weapons for protection would be careless and that they would surely come to harm. This proves childhood to be a social construction as certain restrictions have been made to ensure their safety. Also law has helped to ensure their safety as it also illegal for adults to carry weapons, which protects them from further harm.  Also childhood is dependent on the culture but also class, as poorer children were more likely to be killed if faced with harm as they had inadequate weapons.  However this only proves childhood disappears when society is in an era of anomie.

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There are cross cultural differences in childhood. This is when childhood varies between cultures.  Benedict found that comparison between complex industrial societies and simple non-industrial societies showed the widest cultural variations in childhood experiences. She suggested three areas of difference: Level of responsibility, children are given very little responsibility. Level of dominance, adults expect the submission of children and sexual roles. A study to support this is that of Malinoviski in the Trobriand Islands. 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 ...

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