The module will investigate the impact of changes within society on children, the notion of ‘childhood’,

 This assignment is designed to provide an insight into the historical changes affecting children’s’ lives through the ages, It explores a range of theoretical perspective around the changing concept of ‘childhood’. The experience of children in the past will be investigated within a range of social contexts such as education, family, employment children’s rights,.

The module will investigate the impact of changes within society on children, the notion of ‘childhood’, and the place of children within society from a historical perspective.

1. Perceptions of ‘childhood’

-Constructivist Vs. Nativist view of childhood.

-The impact of such views on children’s experience.

-The vision of childhood and the position of children in society.

What does it mean to be a child at a particular time of life?

How do these shift as you become older?

What is it like from the child’s perspective?

What impact do rules and regulations have on children – from the family? From society? From legislation?

-Socialisation of the child.

-Children’s lives in reality.

Explore and critically examine the following:

-The socio-economic/political circumstances of the period

-How childhood was socially constructed within this period

-The view of childhood within the given period

-Attitudes towards learning and development at that time

-The jobs and kind of work children undertook within this time period.

-Any key pioneers  for change

2. Childhood in context

Historical view of children through specific spheres such as:



The development of children’s rights

Key Legislation

Social and economic changes in UK society

 Impact on children

Development of rights’ and legislation – reflection of changing attitudes and values – and our perception of childhood

The League of Nations- later to become the United nations

Origin of the first Declaration of the Rights of the Child

Declaration of the Rights of the Child – CRC


U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child

54 Articles covering key areas:


To develop to the fullest

To protection from harmful influences, abuse and exploitation

To participate fully in family, social and cultural life

Employment & Child labour

Art & media representations of children

-Different historical time periods- e.g. Victorian era, Industrial Revolution, 1950’s

 -Tracing the development of changes within different contexts – e.g. work, education, children’s rights, parental responsibilities.

3. Global and geographical aspects of childhood

International perspectives

The rural and city experience of children

How this relates to children historically.

4. Theoretical perspectives

Changes in the perception of childhood through the ages.

Examination of key theoretical perspectives

i. Evaluate the differing conceptions of childhood from a historical perspective.

ii. Critically analyse the past experience of childhood within specific contexts.

Childhood of the Industrial Society

Affluent industrial society provided access to well-paid jobs for unskilled male workers, and produced young families with the housewife at the centre.

Protection of children from work.

Children, as children, were outside the production system

Most left school after compulsory education.

Young people were integrated into work at an young age.

Little pressure from the educational system.

Post-industrial Childhood

Post-industrial children enter work at a mature age, but childhood is at the centre of educational production (human capital) and future national competitive power.

Post-industrial childhood is characterised by early social and sexual maturation, and late and differentiated transitions to adult roles.

Post-industrial socialisation is underlined as navigation, requiring planning and cultural/social capital, to move successfully into the future.

iii. Apply differing theoretical perspectives to the changing position of children.


Research on children in the field of developmental psychology has influenced prevailing models of childhood. Jean Piaget’s theory of children’s cognitive development through universal stages determined by chronological agexxxiii has been and continues to be extremely influential.xxxiv Piaget’s work outlines how the individual child sequentially acquires sensori-motor, language and numerical skills, eventually progressing to the formal operational stage which includes autonomous, rational thinking abilities.xxxv In these accounts children’s development ‘has a particular structure, consisting of a series of predetermined stages, which lead towards the eventual achievement of logical competence’.xxxvi Piagetxxxvii and Lawrence Kohlbergxxxviii assert that children’s moral capacities also develop through stages


Barnardo’s (1999)

William Bagley (1874-1946)

John Dewey (1933-1998)

Children Act 1989

Children Act 1894

Factory Act (1802)

The Children Act 2004

1870 Education Act

1880 Education Act

Dr Thomas Barnado

The Children’s Society

The League of Nations & The UNCRC 1989

Save the Children

The Role of the Current Children’s Commissioner

Edward Rudolf

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