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Asses The Sociological Explanations Of The Changes In The Status Of Children

888 words - 4 pages

Assess the sociological explanations of changes in the status of children (24 marks)
Childhood is a socially defined age-status. There are major differences in how childhood is defined both historically and cross-culturally. Some may believe that childhood is biological. The age and development of children are biologically determined as these remain the same throughout time and cultures. But childhood, the way children are viewed and treated, changes throughout time and cultures. This is why childhood is viewed as a social construction. Some sociologists suggest the changes in the status of children are good, while others suggest they are bad.
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Sociologists who follow this view suggest that the changes represent an improvement. They argue that, the position of children in western societies has been steadily improving. Aries and Shorter follow this view and suggest today’s children are more valued, better cared for, protected and educated than previous generations. An example of this is laws that have been introduced to prevent child exploitation. Some suggest that reduced family sizes have led to the family becoming child-centred. In Victorian times, children were not the focal point of the family. Some suggest that children were ‘seen but not heard’ in these times. March of progress theorists believe that this is no longer the case. Children’s status has changed and they are now the focal point of the family; as the family devote more time and attention to their children. This child centeredness is not just seen in the family, but seen in society. Society has developed separate services and items for children such as toys, clothes and health care.
The changes in the position of children can also be seen as oppressive and bad compared to previous generations. This view is held by conflict theorists such as Marxists and Feminists. They suggest modern childhood is based on false idealised images. The march of progress view is criticised for ignoring the power inequalities among children and between children and adults. Firestone (1979) and Holt (1974) argue that the new forms of care and protection are just new forms of oppression placed on children by adults. Not all children experience the same childhood and this is where inequalities among children can be seen. Hillman (1993) found that boys were more likely to be unsupervised. Whereas, girls were more likely to do domestic labour (Bonke, 1999)....

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