Assess the view that the modern family has become more children centred. Some sociologists argue that the modern family has become more children centred. This is mainly due to the changes in laws restricting child labour and excluding children from paid work. This is because from about the 10th to the 13th century the idea of childhood did not exist. According to Aries in the middle ages childhood as a separate age-stage was short. Children entered wider society on the same terms as adults.
Even the laws we have today to protect children were not applicable, the law often made no distinction between children and adults and they faced the same punishment as adults. However Aries theory can be deemed as unreliable as he used evidence from paintings and diaries to understand childhood and family life in the past. Another reason some sociologist argue that the family has become more child centred is due to the introduction of compulsory schooling for all children in 1880. This benefited mostly the poorer children as some upper class children had already been receiving education.
According to Aries some elements of the modern notion of childhood gradually began to emerge from the 13th century onwards. This is because school came to specialize in the education of children. However conflict sociologists such as Marxist argue that inequalities among children of different classes still exist even if all children go to school. The opportunities and risks they face still differ as many children remain unprotected and badly cared for. The view that the modern family has become more children centred can be explained with declining family size and lower infant mortality rates.
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