Explain How Visual Representations of Children Are Informed by Particular Discourses of Childhood.

In my essay I will explain how visual representations of children are informed by particular discourses of childhood.   In order to support this view I will be focusing on the social constructionist approach to what a child is and how they should be treated.   This approach addresses the implications that social and cultural practices have on children and the way in which they are viewed by those around them.   One of the most significant points as regards the social constructionist approach is that it encourages individuals to question whether things can be “objectively defined and measured” (Woodhead & Montgomery 2003, Ch.1, p.29).   I will split my essay into three main parts.   Firstly I will explain what is meant by “discourse”.   I will then go on to discuss some of the different discourses of childhood and how these can be found in visual representations across time and place.   Finally I will look at the coexistence of competing discourses using the aforementioned discourses as an example.
Firstly I will explain what is meant by the term “discourse”.
When explaining the social constructionist approach to childhood, one of the items that can be used to held understand it is the concept of a “discourse”.   This is the term used to describe a wide range of connected ideas regarding childhood which are linked by “a particular ideology or view of the world” (Woodhead & Montgomery 2003, Ch.2, p.47).   Through reading the materials for the course it can be seen that discourses are formed using a number of factors including social, historical and political issues within society.   As a result of this each discourse is based upon a different understanding of society and works to its own expectations; has its own morals; and its own account of “how the world works” (Woodhead & Montgomery 2003, Ch.2, p.47).   Although all discourses vary in their view of understanding and dealing with children, it is important to note that they regularly coexist with one another, which leads...