Childhood as a structural form: it is a category or a part of society, like social class or age groups. There are two aspects of this concept.
Therefore is it fluid and dynamic.
For example: as the book states, changes in occupation or work, family, gender, and social class have resulted in an increase of women with children in the work force. Children are now spending a larger portion of their lives in institutional settings, such as day care centers and early childhood centers, which were not as prevalent in the past.
Within the discussion of the “sociology of childhood” then these two basic concepts are developed: children are a structural part of society, and they are active agents who construct their own cultures and contribute to society as a whole.
“The child as a blank slate.”
Two models have been proposed:
The Deterministic Model: the child is taken over by society. He is trained to eventually become a competent and functioning member. The child plays a passive role.
Socialization is the process of “training” someone into a specific situation, or all of society. Functionalists view society as a machine, with specific pieces working to make it more efficient. Functionalists would see socialization as making society more efficient in a few ways. For example, socializing students to sit for long periods of time while quietly listening prepares us for a life in an office or business. Socializing into a workplace teaches the culture to make sure you don’t stick out and ruin the “system” in place so people don’t pay attention to the odd one out instead of their jobs.
Weaknesses of the Deterministic Models: they overlook the point that children do not simply internalize the society they are born into. Children act on and can bring about changes in society.
Many developmental psychologists see the child as active rather than passive, involved in internalizing information from his or her environment to use in organizing and constructing his or her own interpretations of the world.
III. Stage Theories of Development:
Piaget’s notion of stages is important for this discussion because it reminds us that children perceive and organize their worlds in ways that are different from the ways of adults.
Psychoanalyst Erik Erikson describes the physical, emotional and psychological stages of development and relates specific issues, or developmental work or tasks, to each stage. For example, if an infant’s physical and emotional needs are met sufficiently, the infant completes his/her task — developing the ability to trust others. However, a person who is stymied in an attempt at task mastery may go on to the next state but carries with him or her the remnants of the unfinished task. For instance, if a toddler is not allowed to learn by doing, the toddler develops a sense of doubt in his or her abilities, which may complicate later attempts at independence. Similarly, a preschooler who is made to feel that the activities he or she initiates are bad may develop a sense of guilt that inhibits the person later in life.
Erikson theorized eight stages of development for humans. Each stage brings about physiological changes and new social situations. The individual must adapt to these changes and experiences a crisis at each stage. Erikson’s theory places heavy emphasis on the early stages of life– Stages I through IV, (ages 0 through 11) because they set the stage for the rest of one’s life. However, he maintains we have many chances to alter our lives and that the detrimental effects of one stage can be off-set by adjustments at later stages.
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