Structuration of Childhood: an Essay on the Structuring of Childhood and Anticipatory Socialization

  • Ivor Frønes


Traditional sociology has subsumed childhood under a concept of socialization as a process of integration, where cultural patterns were transformed into inner motivation (Parsons, 1951; Jenks, 1993). Psychology, on the other hand, often pictured a developing child without childhood, in the sense that the social and cultural framework constituting the life and conditions of children was not part of the developmental analysis. Aries (1962) brought a historical and structural perspective to childhood; childhood became a cultural and social realm, influencing the life of its historically-constituted inhabitants. In the later sociology of childhood, the perspective pursued was how a variety of structures and mechanisms frame childhood as the cultural, economic and social conditions for children and as the images and narratives of childhood. From this perspective, children can be seen as members of a social class, as a minority group, as a marginalized category or as a group waiting to enter society (Qvortrup et al., 1994; James et al., 1998). All perspectives on childhood illustrate an important heritage from Ariès: childhood as the role of the child, assigning a set of characteristics to all children. Childhood constitutes a framework structuring the factual life of children, a cultural realm with rights and entitlements, and the role and image distinguishing children from adults. The realm of childhood is a blessing for children historically speaking.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Ariès, P. (1962) Centuries of Childhood: a Social History of Family Life, New York: Vintage Books.Google Scholar
  2. Bateson, G. (1972) Steps to an Ecology of Mind: Collected Essays in Anthropology, Psychiatry, Evolution, and Epistemology, London: Intertext Books.Google Scholar
  3. Bourdieu, P. (1984) Distinction: a Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
  4. Clausen, J. (1993) American Lives: Looking Back at the Children of the Great Depression, New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  5. Elder, G.H. Jr (1974) Children of the Great Depression: Social Change in Life Experience, Chicago/London: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  6. Freud, A. (1946) The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defence, New York: International Universities Press.Google Scholar
  7. Frønes, I. (1995) Among Peers, Oslo: Scandinavian University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Frønes, I. (2001) ‘Revolution without Rebels: Gender, Generation, and Social Change. An Essay on Gender, Socialization and Change’, in Transitions of Youth Citizenship in Europe: Culture, Subculture and Identity, Strasbourg: Council of Europe Publishing, pp. 217–34.Google Scholar
  9. Haldar, M. (1994) ‘Barndom på boks’ [Childhood on tape], Oslo: Department of Sociology, University of Oslo.Google Scholar
  10. James, A., C. Jenks and A. Prout (1998) Theorizing Childhood, Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  11. Jenks, C. (1993) Culture, London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Lewis, O. (1961) The Children of Sánchez: Autobiography of a Mexican Family, New York: Random House.Google Scholar
  13. Lindseth, O.H. (1998) ‘Norsk barneoppdragelse i 1990-årene’, Samfunnsspeilet, 1: 10–16.Google Scholar
  14. Parsons, Talcott (1951) The Social System, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
  15. Qvortrup, J., M. Bardy, G.B. Sgritta and H. Wintersberger (eds) (1994) Childhood Matters: Social TheoryPractice and Policies, Aldershot: Avebury.Google Scholar
  16. Ramsøy, N.R. (1978) ‘Do the Well-educated still Defer Gratifications?’ Oslo, INAS memoranda from the Occupational History Study, 17.Google Scholar
  17. Social Trends (2002) National Statistics No. 32, London.Google Scholar
  18. Statistics Norway (2004) ‘Arbeidsmarkedet mot 2030: Flere høyt utdannede kvinner’ [The labour market towards 2030: more highly educated women], Kongsvinger: Statistics Norway, at Scholar
  19. Thorne, B. (1993) Gender Play. Boys and Girls in School, New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Wærdahl, R. (2003) “Learning by Consuming: Consumer Culture as a Condition for Socialization and Everyday Life at the Age of 12’, Oslo: Department of Sociology and Human Geography, University of Oslo, 4.Google Scholar
  21. Williamson, H. (1997) Youth and Policy: Contexts and Consequences. Young Men, Transition, and Social Exclusion, Aldershot: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  22. Willis, P.E. (1977) Learning to Labour: how Working Class Kids get Working Class fobs, Farnborough: Saxon House.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Ivar Frønes 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ivor Frønes

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations