Examine the Effects of Social Change on the Position of Children

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Childhood is a social construct; it is something that society has created over many years to show the psychological differences between adults and children, as well as their respective maturity levels. Some sociologists believe childhood is only a recent occurrence and there was no defined period of childhood compared to what childhood is perceived to be in today’s society.
Aries believes that before 1760 there was no clear idea of childhood. Children were treated as adults in miniature; they dressed the same, did the same work and were punished in the same way an adult would have been for committing a crime.
Shorter agrees with Aries, because he believes that due to the high death rates children were often neglected; for example being called by the name of a dead sibling. This was all caused by the high dead rates in the pre industrial ages.
Over time parents neglected their children less because they were protected by laws and policies that benefitted their health and protected them from having to work at an early age. This mean they were no longer seen as an economical asset to a family. This in turn lowered the death rate because families were having children out of love and did not neglect them; This also made family sizes smaller. For these reasons Pollock criticises Aries and Shorter stating that they simply had a different notion of what childhood was compared to that of what people think today.
Childhood is not a definite concept across the world, the idea of childhood varies depending whether you are in the West or Eat of the World. Firstly Benedict believes that children in non-industrial simpler lives live very differently to their western counterparts. Punch backs this up by saying that after a study conducted in Bolivia she found that children took on more responsibilities at an early age. They had to work in the home and community, and did not hesitate when given a task. Holmes agrees with Benedict’s ideas about childhood in other cultures.

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