Examine the way in which childhood can be said to be socially constructed. 24 marks
A social construct is something made by society rather than being a biological stage. Some say childhood is a social construct due to different societies and historical periods having different ideas on what it means to be a child. On the other hand, Biology argues childhood is not a social construct as it’s a stage every human goes through.
Cross cultural differences in childhood experience suggest that childhood is socially constructed. This is because some children start working and enter adulthood early. Whereas other children are compelled to be in school until a minimum age before they start to work. Therefore, childhood isn’t a natural stage of life and so is socially constructed. If childhood wasn’t a social construction, all children would have the same experience. Childhood is socially constructed because the idea of childhood and length of time it lasts depends on the culture. Also, childhood can be said to be socially constructed due to class, gender and ethnicity affecting childhood experience. Hillman found that boys have more freedom than girls. Brannam found that Asian parents were more likely to be strict with their daughters to protect their ‘izzat’. Woodroffe found that working class children were more likely to suffer from behavioural disorders and stress than middle class children. This shows that childhood is a social construct because childhood experience isn‘t the same for everyone.
Secondly, childhood can be said to be a social construct because the position of children has changed in society. Laws have been installed to prevent children from working, making them an economic liability. Compulsory schooling and a higher leaving age means children are older before they work and become adults. There is more medical care, such as paediatricians, for children as they are seen as more vulnerable members of society. Therefore, childhood is a social...
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