Examine Different Sociological Views on Changes in the Experience of Childhood in the Past 50 Years (24 Marks)

557 Words3 Pages
According to Aries (1962), childhood can be defined as a social construction. Children were once regarded as ‘little adults’ and an economic asset rather than a symbol of love due to the high death rates making it hard to emotionally invest. However, now, according to Pilcher, a key aspect of childhood is ‘separateness’ from adulthood. Aries definition of childhood as a social construction can be supported by cross-cultural differences and more specifically Punch (2001). Punch studied children in Bolivia and found that at age 5 children were expected to work and take on responsibilities. This cultural variation shows childhood to be a social construction as if it were biological everyone would have the same experiences. There have been several state policies that have constructed and defined childhood, one of which is the children’s act which aimed to give children more rights to make a positive contribution to society. It argues the best place to raise children is at home with their parents which brought about the social view that it is essential for children to spend time with immediate family in order to grow up to be independent. In addition to this, another state policy was the Factory Act which saw the removal of young children from work, strict hours placed upon adolescents and compulsory education put into place. This effected society by presenting and supporting the idea of separateness and children’s need of education. Furthermore, Phillips, a new Right theorist, argues that children are vulnerable and in need of protection. They are too immature to make decisions about their lives, particularly as they have become increasingly important over the past 50 years. Increases in eating disorders and suicide show this. Phillips can be criticized by Morrow who believes children can be positive contributors to family life, however, both the
Open Document