Using material from item A and elsewhere assess sociological explanations of changes in status of childhood.

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David Martin

Using material from item A and elsewhere assess sociological explanations of changes in status of childhood.

The status of childhood has always been changing with time and to this day and age there are many views over the position of children; being confined, disciplined or controlled by the adult authority and socialisation. Others say that they are growing up to fast and the distinction between the adults and children is becoming blurred.

Some sociologists believe that childhood is socially constructed, that childhood is dependent on society’s cultures, beliefs and laws etc. An example for this theory is Wagg (1992) who believes a single ‘universal’ childhood; that is experienced by all, does not exist. He says that childhood isn’t natural nor is it defined by mere biological immaturity. By this he means that although all children go through life stages and physical development like puberty it doesn’t create their position in society and instead the society and its differential culture, religion and laws do.

Earlier centuries like the middle ages didn’t regard childhood at all and adults and children were almost at equal with each other; work, clothing and playing. As item A describes ‘little distinction was drawn between adults and children’. This is a view taken up by the historian Aries where the child entered the wider society on most the same terms as adults and taking the responsibility of work from a young age. Evidence of this is from Bruegel’s painting which illustrate children and men from the 16th century wearing the same clothing and working/playing together. Big progress can be seen by comparing this dark age for children to the ‘child centred society’ as item A describes, ultimately Aries argues that we have progressed from a world that was blind to the prospect of childhood into a modern day of child obsession (‘the century of the child’). However some sociologists like Pollock (1983) have criticized Aries by saying that it is more correct to say that the middle ages just had a different notion of childhood rather than turning a blind eye to it.

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There are two ways to look at the childhood; the ‘march of progress view’ against the ‘conflict’ view. The march of progress see’s society coming out of the dark age for children and into a child-caring society and that the state of childhood is the best it has ever been by progressing slowly in western societies. Mause (1974) is one sociologist who believes in this, he says that ‘the further back in history one goes, the lower the level of childcare, and the more likely children are to be killed, abandoned, beaten, terrorised and sexually abused’. This strongly agrees with ...

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