Using Material from Item a and Elsewhere, Assess Sociological Explanations of Changes in the Status of Childhood

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Sociologists argue about what the term ‘childhood’ actually means. They claim that childhood is a social construction, rather than biological or natural. In this essay I will therefore attempt to assess whether there have been any changes in the status of childhood. I will be looking at the views of various sociologists and how society is changing the way in which children are treated. This essay will look at whether the changes, if any, are the most beneficial for the child. Neil Postman (1994) says that childhood is ‘disappearing at a dazzling speed’. He says that the cause of the appearance and disappearance of childhood lies in the rise and fall of the print culture and its replacement by television culture and this has meant that children are being given the same rights as adults, are wearing similar clothing to adults, taking part in adult activities like smoking and drinking and are committing adult crimes such as murder. These ideas clearly demonstrate that society’s need for children to act older than they are is causing trouble mentally and emotionally for the children. Society is pushing children to behave in a manner that encourages them to take part in activities that are unsuitable for their age group. Postman says that childhood is a social construction and that it has changed over time. He states that childhood is created by society and culture, and not biology. This can be proven by looking historically at how ‘being a child’ has changed. In the Middle-Ages, childhood was a very different and Aries (1960) an historian, said that to an extent, ‘childhood did not exist’, which is stated in Item A. Children and adults, were not particularly segregated and had the same responsibilities as each other. Children were expected to go to work with their parents at a young age, most probably age 6 or 7, to learn the family trade. This was to bring income into the home and children were generally not sent to school. This meant that the only real skill the...
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