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Chapter 1

Chapter 1 - SOSC 1800.docx

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York University
Social Science
SOSC 1800
Shirley Ramsarran

Chapter 1 – Histories of Childhood - Questions asked from page 1 are not always answered maybe because o They have not been asked or o Their answers vary over time or o Answers continue to vary across provincial and national borders  These are indications that the concepts of “child” and “childhood” are social constructs - Social constructs – social creations subject to redefinition by the society or culture - Within a given time period and geographic region, there are differing philosophical approaches to understanding children and childhood - Children of different genders, races, and social class background will experience childhood differently - Childhood varies cross-culturally - “Child”, “children”, and “childhood” are defined differently even on some of Canada’s contemporary official or legal documents - Definition of children in 2006 Canadian census dictionary is on page 2. o This type of definition has nothing to do with physical maturation, chronological age, or level of maturity o It has to do with the living arrangement, sometimes interdependency o Economic adulthood begins with moving out of ones parental home and/or having and residing with a partner and/or having and residing with a partner and/or child of ones own - Criminal code of Canada’s definition of child varies o This type of definition of criminal offence is where a child is anyone under the chronological age of 14, likely due to normative trends in physical maturation and level of maturity - Child pornography refers to any written, audio and/or visual representations of “a person who is or is depicted as being under the age of eighteen years and is engaged in or is depicted as engaged in explicit sexual activity o This definition has to do with chronological age, and not physical maturation or level of maturity - A lot of provinces in Canada have different ages as to what age parents are responsible for their children until o Welcome to Canada states that parents in Canada have a legal duty to provide their children with the necessities of life until they reach age 16 o Ontario child and family services act defines child as a person under the age of eighteen years o Manitoba, Alberta, Ontario, Saskatchewan, Quebec, PEI happens to be age of 18 o British Columbia defines child as a person under 19; as well as new Brunswick, Nunavut, the northwest territories, nova scotia, Yukon, & newfoundland and Labrador - The term “child” alters depending on o The context in which it us used o The purpose it is intended to serve o The type and nature of interactions it involves - Childhood to be socially constructed, and the experiences, behavior, and expectations attached to this life period come to be seen as characteristic of childhood in ways that also vary over time and across cultures Understanding Variations in Childhood Over Time - Stearns, a researcher, has taken a “world history approach” o That is when studying childhood, they try to capture the “big picture” by paying attention to the major changes and continuities in the concept of childhood o This type of approach needs awareness of commonalities and differences across societies and a relatively wide understanding of both global and regional trends and details - Historians reconstruct history through the analysis of personal documents (letters, diaries, photographs, etc.), official and unofficial records, & by studying social artifacts or material objects people and groups leave behind (buildings, toys) - Some adults that were literate has written about their childhood in letters, and diaries o These may reflect more about their adult life than about their childhood o Much of what we know about children is filtered through the images, experiences, and ideas of adults - Until the medieval times, societies did not recognize childhood as a distinct period in the life course Philippe Ariès’s “Discovery of Childhood” And His Critics - Ariè’s argued that there was no place for childhood in the medieval world - He argued that people lacked the awareness of the distinctiveness of childhood apart from adulthood - Adults of the past didn’t have a distinctive conception of childhood as a spate stage in life since children were not given special emotional or legal allowances and because they were depicted clothed as mini-adults or mingling with adults in everyday life - Interesting outcome of the medieval world’s “indifference” towards childhood was that it gave children more latitude, less monitoring, and more autonomy The Development of “Childhood” - The discovery of childhood began in the thirteenth century, and its progress can be traced in the history of art in the 15 and 16 centuries o Ariè’s regarded this period as the “development of childhood” - changes were first seen in upper classes th - in the 17 century in Europe, there was a growing recognition of children’s special need for attention, nurture, and guidance accompanied by an increased attention to schooling. - There as a formal distinct
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