Perspective on Childhood as a Social Construct: Historically and Today Essay

Perspective on Childhood as a Social Construct: Historically and Today Essay

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In our society, childhood has been experienced by everyone, whether it is through their upbringing, working with children, or being part of a society that values and places emphasis on childhood. Childhood is seen as a natural and inevitable phase that we all must go through before reaching adulthood and it can be defined as ‘children’s ‘natural’ biological incapacities’ (Wyness, 2012 pg. 9).
James, Jenks and Prout (1998) argue that childhood is characterised by sets of cultural values whereby the ‘…western childhood has become a period of social dependency, asexuality, and the obligation to be happy, with children having the right to protection and training but not to social or personal autonomy’ (James, Jenks and Prouts 1998 pg. 62). Here, childhood is described in sets of distinguished features and these features imply that the concept childhood may vary from place, culture and time. Therefore suggesting that there is no fixed or universal experience of childhood, for example, childhood in the medieval UK will be extremely different to the childhood in modern UK and therefore it varies over time, place and culture. Since the definition and state of childhood may vary depending on our cultural and historical background, some sociologist claim that childhood is not just biological, but must have been socially constructed for a specific society needs at a particular time. In this essay, I will attempt to explore ways in which childhood is said to be socially constructed by looking at historical childhood and how it has led to construction of modern childhood in the modern society. I will also explore the agency of children as competent social actors able to construct their social world.
Having established what I will be discus...

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Kehily, M. J. 2014. Understanding childhood: an introduction to some key themes and issues. [e-book] Available through: online [Accessed: 20 Mar 2014].
Lupton, D. (1999). Risk and sociocultural theory. 1st ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Waller, T. 2008. [e-book] Available through: online [Accessed: 20 Mar 2014].
Williams, R. (2014). Children using social networks underage 'exposes them to danger'. [online] Available at: [Accessed 24 Apr. 2014].
Wyness, M. G. 2012. Childhood and society. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan.
Zwozdiak-Myers, P. (2007). Childhood and youth studies. 1st ed. Exeter: Learning Matters.

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