Assess sociological explanations of changes in the status of childhood
Social construction is the way that something is created through individual, social and cultural interpretations, perception and actions of people.
Childhood has not stayed the same throughout history and varies in different cultures, so it is not possible that childhood is biological and therefore it must be socially constructed for a particular time, for a particular societies needs. Eidenstadt is one sociologist who believes that childhood is socially constructed and is therefore culturally specific. Bilton supports this argument that childhood is experienced differently in the western world compared to the east; the western world has childhood while the eastern world still sees children working. Benedict has suggested that in simpler pre-industrial societies there are three main differences in the ways that children are treated compared to modern western societies, claiming that responsibility is taken at an earlier age, for example Punch’s study in Bolivia found that children from around the age of 5 are expected to work. One sociologist, Aries, found the changes throughout history of childhood.
Aries found evidence that children had the same values as adults, from evidence he found from paintings before the 1600 to children being shown no affection in the 1700-1800. But from the 1800 children’s rights in the work place were changed along with education, which became compulsory, and child protection laws were all changed for the better. Aries believes that we now live in a child centred society due to these changes. Pollock however disagrees with Aries claiming that childhood has always existed. He supports his claim by having evidence he found in diaries written between the 16th and 20th century which show that children were treated as lesser and often exposed to emotional and physical abuse. Another sociologist who supports Pollock’s claim is Cunningham; who examined Renaissance Art...