Childhood in the Uk

This essay will clearly identify a range of understandings of childhood and youth across societies and eras including contemporary meanings in the UK.   In other words it will talk about a range of different ways that people look upon childhood and youth along with their own opinions depending on the societies they live in and the eras through which people have lived. This includes the sixties times of Mary Poppin’s, the millennium and now, the year 2011.

There are many different views and understandings of childhood and youth. The main questions however are, what are children? And what is childhood? These questions can be clearly answered with, children being young adults and childhood being the time between being an adolescent and reaching the age of maturity of becoming an adult. But these however are dictionary meanings and in many cases that of opinion and so it is important that the changing historical, social and cultural ideas about childhood are considered when identifying understandings of childhood and youth.

There are many approaches to the study of childhood which each try to identify different meanings and understandings of childhood and youth. These include historical, scientific, social constructionist, different discourses and applied approaches. Of these, the different discourses include the Romantic, Puritan and children’s rights discourses of childhood. Phillipe Aries viewed childhood as a modern invention whilst Jean Piaget used observation and experiments to test theory that children develop through distinct stages. He used the scientific approach. The social constructionist takes into consideration the influences of culture, history and social processes.