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Childhood is Not a Fixed Universal Experience Essay

Childhood is seen as a social construct by sociologists, and it is definitely not a fixed universal experience. This is due to many reasons but overall it is easy to see that not all children get to experience the same childhood and each experiences this stage of life for a different length of time. Childhood differs in many ways, in different countries, from the way they act, and the way they are treated.

One way in which we can see that childhood is not a fixed universal exerence is the obvious differences between a childhood in rural countries and one in non-rural countries. For example, in rural countries, children have more responsibility. Sociologists found that in countries such as Bolivia once children are around the age of five years old they start to have work responsibilities both within the home, and the community. Another way in which we can see that childhood is not universal is through the presence of child poverty. Over 1/3 of the world’s children suffer from absolute poverty, and over 1/3 of all children in the world have to live in a dwelling with more than five people in each room, and this the stage of life that should be considered childhood ends up having none of the elements that society would link to that word.

Even so, this all is difficult to argue because childhood is a social construct, meanng that it has no set definition and thus chages over time. Phillipe Aries (1962) argues that ‘childhood’ as we understand it today is a new invention. For example, in the Pre-industrial times, children were seen as little adults, and they took part in the same work and play activities as the adults. They were seen as a unit of production and thus they had less lesiure time. Even so, that stage of their life was consdered as being childhood, showing us that the definition has morphed over time. Nowadays the interpretation of this would be very different.

Overall, there are two different approaches to childhood. These are the Conventional approach and the Alternative approach.


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