Assess Sociological Explanations of Changes in the Status of Childhood Essay

1764 WordsApr 21, 20148 Pages
Using Item A, assess sociological explanations of changes in the status of childhood The term ‘Childhood’ is a controversial topic according to sociologists, who have different views about the meaning of the word. They believe that childhood is a social construction that is created and defined by society, rather than a biological state. The following paragraphs will highlight changes in the status of childhood. Firstly, Aries who was an historian argued that in the pre- industrial society, childhood did not exist. As there were no toys and games for children to play with, which is a major part of upbringing, they were forced to take on adult responsibilities as young as seven to keep themselves occupied. Children at this age were expected to assist in productive activities in the household and may well be apprenticed out to learn to trade. This type of work led to “little distinction between adults and children”, for the reason that children were now seen as economic assets, just like men who provided money for the family in the pre-industrial society. In addition kids were criminally responsible, indicating that they could be punished for crimes such as stealing on a similar basis to that of adults. For example, a 7 year old could be hung for stealing. The two main factors that were established by Aries explain why society disregarded children as objects of devotion and love. These factors are: there was an extremely high level of infant mortality, so children had to work in order for the family unit to survive. According to Item A, Industrialisation “brought major changes to the position of children”. The development of an industrial society illustrates how the attitude of middle class parents towards their children, altered from hatred and disgust to affection and care. This led to an “increasingly confined and disciplined” life for the
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