How Various Notions of Childhood Can Be Depicted Through Film Essay

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How various notions of childhood can be depicted through film Various scholars agree that childhood is not a biological stage through which all children pass but a social construction that changes with time and place (Wells, 2009; James and James, 2009; Schaffer, 2004; Burr, 1995). According to Wells (2009) and James and James (2004), earlier work by Aries in 1962 was one of the first and most influential arguments supporting the idea of childhood as a social construction. Aries studied how childhood was depicted in medieval artwork to divulge whether our notion of childhood has changed through the ages. He found that once children had reached an appropriate stage of independence, they were not portrayed as a separate group from adults in need of different treatment or protection from aspects of adulthood - showing that how adults view and behave towards children can shape our idea of childhood. As our view of childhood has clearly changed through history, this is evidence that social constructions such as childhood are shaped by ‘historical and cultural specificity’ (Burr, 1995 p.3). Wells (2009) realises these ideas but goes on to claim that if childhood is shaped by cultural expectations that differ through time, the concept must too be varied by place. However despite these variations there are also globally recognised characteristics such as the infant’s need to be fed, sheltered and kept safe. Wells furthers this argument by claiming that differences between international and national law also shapes our view and behaviour towards children globally and locally, therefore changing our notions of childhood. For example, international legislations such as the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) states that “adulthood” begins at the age of 18. However different laws such as the age of consent or labour laws vary from country to
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