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

  • Ivor Frønes
Chapter

Abstract

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.

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© Ivar Frønes 2005

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  • Ivor Frønes

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