Childhood Sociology

Topics: Sociology, Western culture, Society Pages: 3 (1071 words) Published: June 13, 2013
Childhood itself is a slightly ambiguous term, and is not a fixed definite period of life. The book “AS level sociology” written by Rob webb, Hal Westergaard, Kieth Trobe and Liz Steel defines childhood as “ a socially defined age status” going on to say that there are major differences in how childhood is defined, both historically, and culturally, similarly, Stephen Wagg says of childhood; “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 isn't 'natural' and should be distinguished from mere biological immaturity” This argues that it is not a natural state, but is socially defined. This however is not a universally accepted definition, for example modern law states that a 'child' is any person under the age of eighteen, so this means the period of childhood is 0-18 years, but the theory that childhood is socially constructed is one which is backed up by several sociologists, such as Phillipe Aries, who in “centuries of childhood” argues that in medieval society, childhood did not exist, but in fact it did not begin to appear until the fifteenth century. He argues that straight after the dependant stage of infancy, children were entered into the world of work immediately. His evidence for this argument lay in medieval paintings, as very frequently children were not portrayed as visibly different to adults. However many sociologists would argue that that has greatly changed over time, mainly due to the theory that the idea of childhood changes depending on three things; time, place, culture.

This argument of time, place and culture being vital in the determination of the definition of childhood is one which is evident from Aries' arguments about the children as young as 6 entering the world of work, as it was 'socially acceptable' during the time. Another example of this theory being...
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