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Lecture 26 Childhood and Child-Rearing.docx

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Sandra Colavecchia

1 Sociology 2U06: Family Sociology January 16 2012 Lecture 26: Childhood and Child-Rearing Readings: - Chapter 5 of Baker Childhood and Child-Rearing - Childhood has a biological underpinning, but sociologists are interested in how childhood and childrearing are socially constructed - Ideas about children and how they should be raised have varied over time and place o Including ideas about:  The role of mothers  The role of fathers  The role of educational institutions  What children are capable of/what we can expect of them  I.e. when is it appropriate to toilet train? When is a child capable?  When children can be independent  The inherent nature of children  Inherently good/innocent? Inherently bad/evil?  Tabula rasa – blank slate? o Nature or nurture effects on capabilities  The place of children in larger society  Shielding them from the news or adult conversations Aries, 1962: Centuries of childhood – a social history of family life - Argues that childhood as a distinct period is actually a fairly recent idea - In our own contemporary society: o Seen as this period of innocence o In high need of others and protection o Childhood is prolonged into young adulthood o Much more dependent on parents than ever before - In earlier centuries: o Immersed in the everyday life of adults o No thought of creating a separate space for kids o Seen as small adults – not qualitatively different, only quantitatively different in terms of size - Controversial – critiqued o But the sociological relevance of the historical aspect is important Early 1900s – childhood becomes prolonged 2 - Social reformers o Union activists, first wave feminists etc o Intent on protecting children o Concerned about children’s wellbeings o Fought for things like child labour laws  Minimizing abuse on kids - Child developmental psychology expands o Impact childrearing literatures geared to parents and women o Development of this psychology was geared towards advice for mothers - Medical science o Focused specifically on keeping babies/kids alive  Public health was an issue – no sewage systems to ensure proper drinking water, no vaccines, no basic refrigeration to keep food safe etc  Emphasis was on basic issues related to hygiene - Because domestic labour was so intensive at this time, the advice that was offered to women during this period was intended to help women to free them up in order for them to be able to finish their household labour o Examples of some of this advice  Having kids play on their own  Early toilet training  Keeping kids on tight schedules By mid to late 1900s - The emphasis shifted from accommodating women’s needs to concern over children’s emotional well-being o Shift in expectations about what women can and should do as mothers o Women had freedom, economic choices Dr. Spock’s Baby and Child Care - First published in 1946 – became a real game changer - Unlike many of the experts before him, he advocated o Throwing out the tight schedule o Suggested a much more leni
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