Essay on Sociology: Sociology and Childhood

Submitted By ryanstevens97701
Words: 783
Pages: 4


Examine the ways in which childhood can be said to be socially constructed (24)

It can be argued that they are many ways in which society has indeed socially constructed childhood. This has not happened in just the last 10 years, this has happened over many centuries. In this time society has changed how childhood is structured and how children are treated and is still ever changing with the influences from different cultures and different sides of the world. Because of Cross-cultural differences between and the western notion of childhood, childhood has indeed changed in numerous ways.

The modern influence of cultures on childhood has become ever prominent because of more and more cultures pushing their way of parenting upon the children and onto society. Ruth Benedict (1934) argues that Children in simpler, non-industrial societies are generally treated differently from their modern western counterparts in three ways. Firstly they take responsibility at an early age. A study by Samantha punch (2001) was carried out in rural Bolivia, she found that once children are about 5 years old, they are expected to take work responsibilities in the home and in the community. Children are secondly less valued in society when showing obedience to adult authority. Raymond Firth (1970) found that among the Tikopia of the Western pacific, doing as you are told by a grown-up is regarded as a concession to be granted by the child, not a right to be expected by the adult. And finally the third way is that the Children's sexual behaviour is often viewed differently compared to the western culture. Bonislaw Malinowski (1957) found that adults took an attitude of 'Tolerance and amused interest' towards Children's sexual exploitations and activities. He argued that many Non-industrial cultures, there is much less of a dividing line between behaviour expected by children and that expected of adults. This evidence gained through research and the three key differences observed back up the idea that their Childhood is not built up on set ideologies around the world but in fact socially constructed based on the area the child lives in a what type of culture is dominant. This helps us observe the significant differences in childhood between our western values and the values of more industrial driven societies. In the western society it is generally accepted that childhood is an important and special time in a person life and that we accept the differences between childhood and adulthood, this has been helped by changes in the law but has mainly been socially shaped from changing acceptance of how children should be treated and how they should be allowed to have their freedom from going in to work and a very young age. There is a common belief that children's lack of skills, knowledge and experience means they need a lengthy, protected period of nurturing and socialisation before they are ready for adult society and its responsibilities. Jane pilcher (1995) notes, the most important feature of the modern idea of childhood is separateness. Childhood is seen as a clear and distinct life stage, and children in our society