To What Extent Has Childrens Developement Been Viewed as a Social Process?

Throughout history, the views on childhood and what it means to be a child have changed dramatically.   James and Prout make a distinction that childhood is “constructed and reconstructed”.   This theory focuses on structure and agency and the factors that may affect child development, which can be seen with voting and school ages.   There are four main theoretical views of childhood, that of Hobbes, Rousseau, Locke and Kant.   Each view takes into consideration the nature versus nurture aspect of a child’s development and places differing amounts of emphasis on whether development is a natural process or the result of environmental influences.   The views of childhood have also changed in the respect of looking at what it means to be a child in different cultures and societies around the world.   Super and Harkness’s theory of the developmental niche is a good example of how development is directed dependent upon the culture and society that the child is raised in.
James and Prout summed up the distinction between children and childhood in the following statement: “The immaturity of children is a biological fact but the ways in which that immaturity is understood is a fact of culture ... childhood is ... constructed and reconstructed both for and by children.”
The first part of this quote is describing how children are biologically immature.   The understanding of the maturity level is shown by society in a number of ways, for example, children have to stay in school until they reach the age of 16 and are not permitted to vote until they reach 18.   The second part of the quote draws upon the idea of construction and reconstruction.   In recent history, school leaving age has changed.   In 1918 the school leaving age was raised to 14, then raised to 15 in 1936 and then to 16 in 1973.   The voting age was lowered from 21 to 18 in 1970.   So whilst children were required to stay in school longer, they were still given the opportunity to vote at a younger age, suggesting that...