• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

To what extent has childhood been viewed as a social and cultural process rather than a natural process?

Extracts from this document...


To what extent has childhood been viewed as a social and cultural process rather than a natural process? Illustrate your discussion with reference to Book 1, Chapter 1, 'Children and Development'. In this essay I will be examining the concept of childhood and outlining some of the historical approaches towards childhood and development, before discussing the influence that society and culture have on childhood itself. Childhood is a complex concept. It varies both between and within cultures and is in a constant state of flux. For this reason it is difficult to definitively describe childhood and we can only talk in very general terms. In the western economically affluent world childhood is generally seen as a time when children are carefree and cared for. In an ideal situation they are encouraged to play, have fun, learn and develop ideally at their own pace. Distinct from adults, they are viewed as having different needs and wants. In developing countries however, childhood is not commonly viewed in the same way. There is less distinction between adult and child, with children being taught useful skills from an early age. ...read more.


Children are born with a framework into which external factors such as society and culture are organised and understood. Development is a two way process and the child is active not passive. The approaches outlined above provide the basis for contemporary theories that emphasis the role of society and culture on childhood development. One such theory is that of Super and Harkness. They proposed something called the 'Developmental Niche' which the diagram below illustrates: Super and Harkness (1986) Super and Harkness created this theory as a way of attempting to understand how common features of childhood development diversify according to culture. As we can see in the diagram, the developmental niche believes the most important influences on development include their habitat - where they live, who they live with, how wealthy they are, whether they go to school, general structure of their days, their culture of parenting - how they are raised, how the parents treat the child and finally what they called the 'ethnotheories' of the parents - how well the parents want to the child to do in life and whether they can actually affect this. ...read more.


Thinking about universal truths in childhood development, we can draw comparisons in the way that children use play as a learning tool no matter what culture they are in. We could say that the way they develop is similar, learning through imitation, necessity and by example. If these universal truths are accepted then we must accept that nature does play some part in childhood development. What they learn may vary according to what their society needs them to learn but the way they develop is the same, shaped by natural processes. It seems that, as ever, the more acceptable approach would be the middle ground, in this case the views of Kant seem particularly valid. It could be argued that the pattern of development itself is a universal truth, that children develop in the same way, the only difference is what they develop. Account therefore should be given to nature as well as society and culture. To conclude, society and culture appear to greatly influence childhood development. They provide the background, the input and shape the result of development. However it seems acceptable to suggest that nature provides the starting point and framework for this development and so this essay concludes that although society and culture provide the major influences, nature plays a minor but essential part too. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our University Degree Cognitive Psychology section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related University Degree Cognitive Psychology essays

  1. Discuss the Development of Psychology with Reference to a Variety of Topics Covered in ...

    offered an explanation of cognitive ability through several stages. However today it is argued that children do not necessarily have to pass through these stages, Piaget's theory gave an accepted account that the cognitive capabilities of a child are different to that of adults. Another area that has developed within the realms of cognitive psychology and indeed become an area in the modern version of cognitive neuroscience is memory.

  2. Compare and contrast constructionist and nave realist approaches to perception

    They found that urban participants were more prone to the illusions then tribal participants. Results for the Vertical-Horizontal illusions were mixed. This supports the view of the constructionists that perception is based on an internal model of sense-data and is subjective to each person, this is demonstrated by the variance between cultures.

  1. Describe three main schools in psychology in terms of distinguishing features and historical influences.

    Behaviourism proposed that behaviour is moulded by experience (environmental influences). Watsons view on behaviourism influenced the Russian psychologist Ian Pavlov (1849-1936) on his studies. Pavlov proposed a theory on a learning known as "classical conditioning" based on the digestive system of dogs and noticed by chance that dogs salivated to things other than food.

  2. Meditation. The following essay starts as usual with defining meditation and viewing it ...

    The 'opening-up' type allows the practitioner to use the experience from everyday life in the training of consciousness. The psychological research in meditation dates back in 1950-s and 1960-s, when psychologists observed different practitioners- yogis and Zen Buddhist monks, and found unusual patterns of brain wave activity during meditation.

  1. Cognition Development in Children

    The false-belief task is commonly used to assess children's theory of mind which is why this is a common task used by researchers. Most four year old children can solve this problem, stating that the experimenter who left the room would guess the child's first guess, Band-Aids.

  2. Demonstration of the learning acquired from the two days very live workshop on strategic ...

    It will also help to reduce communication gap between staff of organisation. It can be used in negotiation and solving conflicts. Story Telling: We have been told to write a story after the first activity. The story which I have wrote was about my experience during the period of time when I was working in a call centre.

  1. Integrative and dynamic impression formation process.

    Next, the cognitive process would be examined more precisely. Stereotype and the Gestalt formation will be compared. Stereotype was termed (Hilton & Hippel, 1996) as "fixed ways of thinking about people that put them into categories and don't allow for individual variation". It involved classifying people according to a set of pre-established criteria, on the basis of some superficial characteristic-like colour skin, gender, and etc.

  2. To what extent can biological investigations provide evidence to suggest language lateralisation correlates with ...

    to an increase of mixed handedness compared with normal or patient controls, but only studies by Manoach, Maher and Manschreck (1988) and Gur (1977) reported an increase in left handededness only. Further research suggests that ?In addition left hemisphere pathology is associated with schizophrenia, and this is consistent with the

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work