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Lecture 3

Week 3: Ideal Childhoods - A question of Rights.doc

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Brock University
Child and Youth Studies
Rebecca Raby

Original Lecture = “Cambria” Added on notes = “Arial Narrow” Tuesday, January 21, 2014. Lecture 3:  Ideal childhoods ­ a question of rights? Outline I/ Historicizing western childhood – talk about history (both USA and Canada) to illustrate the childhood discourses II/ Childhood into the 20th and 21st centuries III/ Shaping policy: UN Convention on the Rights of the Child Main points ­Looking at history denaturalizes how we see childhood in the present ­Key shifts have dramatically shaped Canadian childhood ­The UN CRC reflects specific ideas about childhood I/  Historicizing western childhood A) Why look at history? • Disrupts ideas of ‘natural’ or ‘normal’ in the present • It is really easy to get caught in the present • We tend to think about children as what they are like now opposed to how they were • Raises important questions: • Is childhood of today a reflection of scientific improvements in knowledge of what children inherently  need (modernist)? • Does our thinking about childhood in the present reflect certain economic/industrial conditions? If so,  who benefits and how might this thinking perpetuate inequality? (critical theory)- look at context and see how it is relevant • Is current childhood just one of many possibilities that make sense in different contexts  (constructionist)? – certain place with a certain time B) Shifts in how much we know (modernism) • Looking at how people are vs. how they really are in regards to research and studies (modernist approach) C)  Shifts in ideas:  the invention of childhood? (constructionism) 1. Philippe Aries – Centuries of Childhood (a classic sociologist type of book) - A French sociologist - He said that there was no childhood in Europe and that it did not exist - He determined this by finding evidence in paintings during the medieval ages - The children tended to be represented as adults (how they posed, what they wore, what they were doing) - He argued that there was actually very little difference between children and adults (from 7 years onwards) - Gradually he argues that we start to see childhood as what it is today - He then identified children as unique which was a provocative thing to say at that time period - Thesis:  Modern childhood emerged in Europe between the 15th and 18th centuries - Method:   oPainting oDress and toys oWork, games, punishment - Debates with Aries: oDisagreement on the evidence  oChallenges of historical data oAries’ data was not accurate oAries’ assumptions Tuesday, January 21, 2014. oAgreement:  the form that childhood takes is socially and historically specific oAnd there have been dramatic historical shifts in Western childhood D) Shifts in material conditions 1. Features of Western industrialization - shifts in the economic system changing ideas and experiences of childhood - The huge rise of factories - Living in a time of feudalism - People worked as peasants in the fields and then there is a huge shift - Rise of factory production - Urbanization - Movement of countryside to cities - Mass productions and assembly lines - Production is a lot more efficient at this time - Rise of secularism - Rise of new economic systems - Immigration and colonization 2. Working Canadian children in the 19th century - Work inside the home - Work outside the home oaway from farm work and apprenticeships otowards factory work - Mixed thoughts on working children  3. Wealthier children and the private sphere - Public and private spheres – are very important - Private sphere was seen as the home whereas the public sphere was work/consumption - Ideology of domesticity - Innocence and childhood - Children were involved in mining and lumbering - The house is a safe and cozy environment and is dominated by the mother (they are both protected from the workplace (mother and child)) 4. Expanding ideas of middle class
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