The sociology of childhood has a relatively short history, yet it has grown as an area of academic and policy interest in recent years. The social sciences previously handled childhood either through theories of socialization or through developmental psychology - approaches which have led to children being considered as a natural rather than social phenomenon. This work offers a greater appreciation of the social factors that make up our knowledge of children and childhood. It provides a critical framework through which to understand private attitudes and public policy in relation to the child, viewing childhood from a social constructionist perspective. The basic assumption that childhood is a social construct reveals that our understandings of childhood and the meanings that we place upon children vary considerably from culture to culture, but also quite radically within the history of any one culture such as our own.
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