Two Views on Childhood: March of Progress vs. Conflict View

Last Updated: 31 Mar 2023
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There is really only two views on the change of childhood and they're 'The march of progress view and 'The conflict view' both of which are every different to the other. The march of progress view is the view that the position of children In western societies has greatly improved. Aries and shorter , two sociologists of whom hold a march of progress view, argue that children are more valued , better cared for , are more protected and educated , have better healthcare and have more rights all due to sociological changes throughout history.

These Include things such as laws estricting child labour, the establishment of policies controlling at what age a child can do things (such as smoke), the introduction of compulsory schooling (1880) , new child protection and welfare legislations and the growth of the idea of children's rights. Lloyd deMause , a social thinker of whom seemed to hold a march of progress view , said In 1974 that ' The history of childhood Is a nightmare from which we are Just recently awakening from'. Other sociologists of whom agree with this argue that this Is because not only has society changed as a whole due to new laws, legislations and iews etc. ut also because families seemed to have become more child centred as well as society as a whole. This Is clear as children are no longer to be seen and not heard as they where in Victorian times. They also argue that children are given a better chance of survival due to the development of proper healthcare and higher standards of living thus making childhood better. Many people hold the conflict view that childhood Is quickly disappearing , Iona ople argues against this as through her lifelong research she has found strong evidence hat there Is a very separate culture between adults and children of which didn't exist 50 years ago.

The opposing view to that of the marching progress view is the conflict view. This is the view of which Is , held by feminists and Marxists, that childhood hasn't improvised. Sociologists of whom hold the conflict view argue that one of the main reasons childhood hasn't improved is due to Inequality between both children and adults. They argue that children from different status's , nationalities , gender , ethnicity and class do not have the same resources , chances or backgrounds herefore leaving them unequal.

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For example according to Mayer Hillman (1993) boys are more likely to be allowed to cross or cycle on roads, use buses and go out in the dark unaccompanied , whereas Jens Bonke (1999) found that girls do more housework than boys , so much so that in some families girls do five times more than the boys in inequality through ethnicity was discovered by Julia Brannens (1994), she found through her study of 15-16 year old girls that Asian parents were more likely than others to be strict towards their daughters.

They also argue that there is also inequality between adults and children therefore causing children to experience more control and oppression to that of a child 50 years ago. March of progress writers argue that adults use this power of inequality to the benefit and protection of children. However , critics such as Shulamith Firestone (1979) and John Holt (1974) argue that many things march of progress writers see as care and protection are in fact Just new ways to to force control and injustice on Modern age children.

For example Firestone argues that 'protection' of hildren from paid work is not a form of protection on a child but in fact a way of keeping them dependant on their parents and forcibly creating a segregation between adults and children, of which again is a form of inequality. Another reason they believe childhood hasn't improved is due to the control children experience. Due to the change in society through history and the segregation between adult and children it is seen that adults have more authority over their children, therefore allowing them to control certain aspects of their lives.

Such as the pace/places children are and aren't allowed to go, what their child spends time doing and how much time there child spends doing things, there child's bodies and the ways in which they and other people can touch them and the resources their child receives. For example people are allowed to put signs up saying "no school children" or can band there child from entering a particular estate or place. They can also disallow there child to go out at specific times or set them a time in which they do distinct tasks such as homework or chores.

They can also tell a child how to wear here hair or what clothes they can and cannot wear and they can also disallow a child access to the internet etc. These things alone do not come across as an issue but when put together sociologists argue that these things stops the independence of a child and and can even cause a child to be unhappy. Another thing sociologists argue and that isn't rare is that adult control can often lead to abuse in many levels. This can be in 4 different forms physical abuse , emotional abuse, sexual abuse and neglect all seen even in modern day (Daniel Pelka, Baby P etc. ).

Another thing sociologists argue that childhood hasn't improved is the way in which technology has taken over our children's lives even in such a way they are constantly glued to a television or games console. This then effects their behaviours and learning abilities which can lead to loss of imagination, shortening of attention p and may cause confusion with fact and knowledge. Sue palmer also found that there where many concerns with teachers as computer games and television was causing children to become more impulsive and distractable therefore compromising ntellectual,emotional and social development.

A particular sociologists Neil Postman believed that childhood was disappearing due due to telivisation unsupervised child hood games and rhymes etc. where disappearing therefore children's childhoods where beginning to fade away. In my own opinion I believe in neither the conflict view or the march of progress view as there is lots of little things you have to take into consideration like the way in which life as a whole has changed , for example the fact that theirs at least a case of murder , rape or abduction on the news every single week.

Most parents feel as if they have to protect they're children from this and rightfully so. Although some parents may be stricter with they're children than others and some more over protective they all have they're own personal reasons for that. Some parents are strict because they simply want they're children to succeed whereas other because that's the way in which they where brought up. Some parents are more overprotective than other as they only have one child or simply because they're terrified of the disgusting and horrific things that happen here even in the modern era.

On one hand I believe that childhood has improved as children are no longer working from the age of 3 and are now given a chance to mature before being pushed into the world of work. On the other hand I think particular aspects of childhood life hasn't improved as children as still being neglected and abused and are very much so reliant on there parents sometimes when they don't actually need to be , also a lot of independence and freedom is being taken away from children from no fault of they're own. So overall I believe in some aspects childhood has improved in others not so much.

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Two Views on Childhood: March of Progress vs. Conflict View. (2018, Aug 06). Retrieved from

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