Childhood Argumentative Analysis

862 Words4 Pages
Childhood is not at all the same thing in different times and places. That childhood differs in important ways according to where in the world we are what period of history we are in, or which social group we are considering, is not in dispute. What is sometimes disputed, however, is whether we can use the words ‘childhood’ and ‘children’ to apply to what we find in different times and places or among different social groups. Unsurprisingly, some authors prefer to speak of a multiplicity of ‘childhoods’ rather than a single ‘childhood’.
It is now generally accepted that childhood is, in a significant sense, socially constructed– that is, it is something produced in social interaction and discourse rather than being a purely natural phenomenon.
…show more content…
Two broad theoretical positions have emerged on this question. One argues that childhood is a characteristic of human evolution designed to ensure the survival and development of the species. The other suggests that the state of childhood or how childhood is viewed is significant in itself as an indicator of the evolution or development of societies and cultures toward notions of civility or modernity. The former, which encompasses the biosocial and evolutionary approaches, (Panter-Brick, 1998) argues that childhood, as a stage of growth and development, has evolved in human society to provide the conditions for optimizing the prospects of maturity. In particular, this perspective has suggested that the distinctively rapid growth of the brain and the immaturity of dentition and digestive tracts characteristic of the early stages of human life have evolved over time to sustain human society. Such a view is consistent with an essentialist or universal view of childhood (that prioritizes biology over environment in explaining childhood) but has also recognized that social conditions and ecology play a part in constructing the social and cultural response to childhood. Somewhat related to bio-social theories, the perspective of evolutionary psychology came to regard childhood as directly linked to the evolution of what has been called a psychology of PARENTING. This theory suggests that certain universal characteristics of infants and young children, such…show more content…
Social-constructionist theory seeks to illustrate that there are many possible answers to the questions "What is a child?" or "What is childhood?" While factors such as body weight might be measured scientifically, producing the same answer in any time or place, childhood itself, the social and cultural expectations of the child, and its roles and responsibilities or stages of legitimacy can be understood very differently according to any contextual worldview. Social-constructionist theory argues that a notion of childhood is generated by successive generations out of a mix of tradition, social inter-course, and technological development. The context is cultural, and the key generating force is discourse. A discourse on childhood is the mediation of an interrelated set of ideas which are communicated through predominantly cultural outlets that generate and consolidate a particular
Open Document