Assess Sociological Explanations of Changes in the Status of Childhood Essay

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Assess sociological explanations of changes in the status of childhood There is no fixed definition of childhood or even a universal type of childhood; this is because it is socially constructed. A socially constructed childhood is one, which changes as society does, conforming to society’s evolving norms and values. Therefore, childhood was a different institution in different decades and still is in different countries. The historian Philippe Aries (1960) argued that in the Middle Ages there was no notion of childhood, as children were seen as small adults who socialised with one another without boundaries drawn over age. However, the status of childhood has changed immensely since then, in which today’s society the distinctions between adults and children are clearly drawn, and control over children has increased with adults enforcing the activities a child can and cannot undertake. To understand the changes in the status of childhood: industrialisation, the economy, and changes in the family demography, paediatrics, the media, and children’s rights are key factors to be explored. The first key factor to be explored is the economy; a revolution was occurring were the economy was moving swiftly away from an agricultural to an industrial economy. This is called industrialisation, this created new jobs in which operating and creating machines were an important aspect. Therefore, demand for a more educated workforce grew, and the need for children to be educated increased. This resulted in compulsory education for children in 1880, and later the school leaving age was increased. This meant that children were less likely to be working, in squalid conditions for low paid jobs however it increased child dependency on the parent or carer. As children were now made to go to school, they were unable to get jobs more easily and had to become financially dependant on
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