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Lecture 6

Lecture 6 - Oct 25.rtf

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Matthias Koenig

SOC256H1F - CHILDHOOD IN DIFFERENT KINDS OF SOCIETIES October 25, 2011 For Interview and Assignment: Tell me what happened in this wedding and what happened in that wedding… leave it open! Have some probing questions, who controlled wedding etc. Get them to describe the two Then what things were the same and what things were different? – ask them to compare and contrast- good way to find out what is important in the eyes of the respondent Check list of topics – similar in this way or different in that way etc. LECTURE Right from the moment of appearance, babies are socialized in very different ways and contexts Thus the social experience of being a child is a different thing in different societies Phillip Aries – pre-modern and modern Europe contrasting child to 1600’s child – how can we know what child was like so far back? Small fragment could write, those who wrote from church therefore how do we figure out what childhood was like? Well you take what you can get, Aries looked for stuff that had been written, looked at every other trace he could find, he made good use of pictures Medieval images of Mary holding Jesus- body proportions are not those of children, which is a reflection of how Medieval Europeans saw childhood- that being an inferior version of adulthood, little kids did not have same capacities as adults, not qualitatively different, just not as capable. Aries’ argument- in medieval Europe people had no concept of childhood as a distinct stage involving a human being different in nature from adult human – in 20 century we are completely convinced children are different in their nature from adults, we “know” this… Europeans just saw children as weaker, inferior but pretty much same ad humans qualitatively Aries thinks Medieval Europeans had lower value for children, they were not as important, did not care as much for them as we do today – Aries sees this in people’s writings and says the reasons have to do with demography medieval Europe birth rates were very high, and child mortality was very high, many children would die… Small children died very often – Aries thought it meant parents would hold back on affections for children because good chance of losing one, he thinks this is what happened but other scholars have continued research and argued otherwise. They have argued that people did fall in love with babies despite of great risk of losing them, despite mortality picture Book about Nisa and describing her loss from children – every child she had died, only one grew to almost an adult, she was distressed by every death. Therefore Aries was too cynical and Medieval people did invest emotion into babies despite high risk of death. Other scholars saw people did pay attention to realities of childhood and ways in which children were not just small adults, and found instead value for childhood in own right. Aries got the historical study of childhood going We sometimes think of children and childhood as “natural,” but childhood is a social construct, as can easily see by comparing childhoods in different societies. Most of your readings on childhood, from the Encyclopaedia, start from the innovative and influential work by Aries. - So your readings include some key passages from Aries Aries argued that medieval Europeans had NO concept of childhood, in that they did not think of children beyond infancy as being different in their nature from adults. -based on the bits and pieces of historical evidence available -for example, children in medieval pictures have the body proportions and clothing of adults -Aries concludes that children were seen as smaller, less capable adults Aries argues that modernization brought a new view of children: -more attention paid to them -more awareness of the different stages of child development -more value for children -more emotional investment in them -more value for them AS children, different from adults in precious ways His claims are highly controversial and more recent research challenges him in several ways. IDEAS ABOUT CHILDHOOD Shahar (see reading 11a): - in the premodern period before 1600s, views of childhood were not as simplistic as Aries thinks - various writers distinguished several stages of childhood and described them in attentive detail - the basis for their ideas was not just the conventional learning and reasoning of the time (e.g. argument by analogy: people thought there were seven planets, so human life should have seven stages) -ideas about children also came from observing them VALUE FOR CHILDREN Infant mortality was very high, and child mortality was quite high, in all types of society other than well developed industrial society. - e.g. Bradbury p. 60 on Montreal, “a city where approximately one in three children failed to reach the age of five in the 1860s and where, well into the twentieth century, almost one in four were dying before age one” -How did this affect childhood? -Aries argues that the high death rates in medieval Europe led to less value for children than we have today -He argues that people were reluctant to invest emotionally in children who were so likely to die -But Nisa also lived in a society with high child death rates, and she herself lost every one of her children -Does her description of her losses sound like she did not invest in her children????? -She reports loving best the child who lived the longest, but that was because they had a longer and richer relationship -Probably most people have always mostly loved and valued their children, and valued most the ones they have known for longest Thus Aries was not entirely right, but he did almost single-handedly kick start the comparative study of childhood, and is still worth thinking about. Now turn to a more systematic review of how selected aspects of childhood vary with type of society in Lenski et al.’s sense. SOCIAL ROLES OF CHILDREN: WORK Do children work? What kind do they do? Hunting and gathering societies: children do little if any work hunting and gathering technology is not very labour-intensive; adults could do all the work in a fairly short work day hunting and gathering could also be dangerous for children taking them along just made work harder, since they had to be supervised once they could run about Ex. Modernized Kung people encampments – children playing, singing, chatting – no hunting or gathering- there was no need for them to do such work because working day of forager is quiet short! Hunting and gathering = low levels of technology – no one will take child out to hunt and gather in dangerous Kalahari desert- adults go out to hunt in groups, kids stay sometimes with few adults and in little village where they do not even join in when parents work The only kids that go along are the very small who are carried by mothers So hunting and gathering – no work for kids, it is all play FARMING SOCIETIES: But the invention of farming meant more work to do, in a relatively settled lifestyle with safe spaces in which children could make some useful contributions. Change because people live sedentary lives in safe conditions which require much more work. Some is stuff small children can do. (Fetching water, collecting eggs etc.) Invention of farming meant invention of child labour which varied in terms of the inequality! So once surplus is honed by some, farming = inequality, thus childhood not expected to be the same for all… it is the same for Kung and Ache but not farming societies, you would expect poor peasants to have children working vs. elite kids not working instead learning Quite small children helped their families in societies right up to early industrialization societies except for children of privileged families, which could afford to invest in longer periods of training for their children note for example reading 11b, p 130, on the substantial amount of work done by children in New France As children gradually developed greater capacities, they did more and more of the same work as adults thus the period from infancy to adulthood was often seen as one gradual stage of progression, without special subdivisions like “adolescence” (reading 11a) With more advanced technology, we have more specialization- children’s work situation is affected Pre industrial era- children would end up doing same work as parents. (Copper trade? – become coppersmith like father, grew up in farming family? Become farmer.) Not just amount of work varied but also the kind of work varied Childhood became more differentiated in respect to work, because work became more differentiated for all adults and hence for parents in hunting and gathering societies, the only real difference between children is gender, with work roles diverging especially after puberty in farming societies, children started to work later if they wre from more privileged families and whenever they started, they learned and did work similar to their parents’ Pre-industrial: a lot of work was done as part of family, at home, the farmer working with family on farm. Home divided into working and living sections Not many went away from home in order to go to work – division between home and work space is a MODERN division which only started with rise of industrialization With industrialization and the surge in wage labour outside the household, children’s work became wage labour also, especially for boys in working class families -Your reading by Bradbury on late 19 century Montreal shows a world in which working class children often started paid work very young, because their families desperately needed even the tiny wages paid to children - With invention of factory- people left home to work – thus distinction between home and work - Early industrial textile home based - Victorian family beginning of industrial era – all put to work, father responsible of being boss of shop consisting of family, he would direct and teach… factory owner would pay all wages to father… - GRADUALLY as industrialization developed further, this model fell apart, children were seen as needing more of a formal education. - Needs of factory workers early on were very minimal, skills were not specific nor difficult but eventually dealt with more sophisticated machinery where children were not allowed to run expensive machines. - Also social reform movement where people did not like children working and instead wanted them out and playing- so we see development of laws against child labour and laws insisting children go to school – recent historical development which led to almost the end of child labour for money in the developed world. Almost the end because even today there are still children who do work… Modern industrialized societies legally forbid child labour No longer necessary (high surplus, high labour efficiency) And undesirable since children need extensive education to become future contributors to a high-tech world Children still do SOME work: Help out at home, in part as a way to learn life skills Help out in family businesses Baby-sitting: non demanding work Some for actual cash For family reasons- family business But this is a minority of kids! Because parents have jobs rather than own business. But not much overall because kids have to go to school = modest amount of work for pay, some not at all… And in other contemporary societies less well developed than our own, child labour is still common for the poor = Work has thus become very variable Ex: Cirque de Soleil – parts for children One extreme: kids with jobs and other end the occasional babysitter Paid work for money is lower now than it was in early industrial era Variety in child’s work for money! Part of growth of complexity in division of labour as it applies to adults and reflected in children lives Characteristics of all highly sophisticated societies- the real nature of child’s work has changed – being a student, school is the work children do! We expect them to do it like a job! – Expected to get to school on time, do the assigned work, etc. We do construct schooling as a form of work School is the work of children CHILDREN’S SOCIAL ROLES: LEARNING Childhood always and everywhere includes a lot of “education” in the widest sense, but this occurs very differently. Hunting and gathering societies: No work but do learn Children learn by interacting with adults, imitating them in play Adults usually let them move at their own pace All the adults in a community contribute to some extent All children learn much the same things Up to the point when male a
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