The Effects of Western Perspective of Children

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Childhood" is a term, which in Western society, is most often used to describe the phase between infancy and adulthood. Although it is nearly impossible to dispute that "childhood" is an essential part of a human's life cycle, it is a state that is largely conditioned by social and cultural factors.


It should be noted that the notion that "childhood" is separate from "adulthood" is distinctively modern and mostly a product of Western society. Most childhood studies reveal that the role children play in society has shifted significantly in modern times. The historian, Philippe Aries, argues that children were viewed as "miniature adults" during the medieval ages and allowed to perform many of the same activities as adults. While some theorists have argued the validity of Aries's concept, it is a certainty that the labor reforms made in response to poor child worker conditions during the Industrial Age helped to establish differences between adults and children. In addition, due to recent studies, particularly The Six Culture Project, which examined the role children played in societies outside of Western culture, researchers have discovered that the notion of children as "not ready" for adulthood is also a localized construct. In African cultures, children played with toys like Western children, but in a type of rehearsal for the various activities performed by adults including marriage, child caring, animal hunting, and hut building. Thus, the term "childhood" is greatly conditioned by social and cultural factors.
Perhaps the four most common theories which have arisen about childhood and ...
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