Assess Sociological Explanations of Changes in the Status of Childhood

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Childhood is socially construted, this means it is only a human concept and the only reason that 'childhood' exists is because society makes it that way. Over time childhood has changed as different norms and values over each century of life have been different and is still changing at present. Also in different places of the world there are different cultures and ethics so therefore their veiw of childhood will also be different. As Wagg (1992) states ‘Childhood is socially constructed. It is, in other words, what members of particular societies, at particular times, and in particular places, say it is. There is no single universal childhood, experienced by all. So, childhood isnt “natural” and should be distinguished from mere biological immaturity.’ However childhood has not always been controlled like this as in pre-industrial times Aries (1960) argues that ‘the idea of childhood did not exist’ Soon after being weaned, the child entered wider society on much the same terms as an adult. However childhood has changed over time and as it says in Item A ‘The development of industrial society meant that children’s life’s were increasingly confined, disciplined, and regulated by adults’. In historical times law often made no distinction between children and adults and as Shorter (1975) argues that high death rates encouraged indifference and neglect, especially towards infants. Childhood is much different now as although neglect is still present, there are laws imposed to protect children, such as the 1989 Child Protection Act. The March Of Progress view would agree that childhood is better now than it was due to laws like this. According to sociologist Aries childhood gradually began to emerge from the 13th century onwards, as schools specialized more in teaching the young since the Compulsory Schooling Act 1880 was imposed leading children to become more educated as adults. This was thought to be the influence of the church as they started to see children as...
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