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Confessions of a Grinch: Why I hate Xmas Parenting can be radicalizing –Children’s culture has become a central issues for parents who come to recognize.

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Presentation on theme: "Confessions of a Grinch: Why I hate Xmas Parenting can be radicalizing –Children’s culture has become a central issues for parents who come to recognize."— Presentation transcript:

1 Confessions of a Grinch: Why I hate Xmas Parenting can be radicalizing –Children’s culture has become a central issues for parents who come to recognize the contradictions of consumer culture and its values --- Especially at Xmas Crossing the Thin Black Lion: The Personal is the Political: –Why has childrearing become the most difficult form of social communication I practice? –Historical reflection on the changing cultural environment

2 The Irrationality of Childrearing and the Study of Socialization Are we slaves to our genes? Socialization: defined as the pattern of social communication which enables the young to become autonomous members of human society Cultural diversity of socialization practices and beliefs –Provisioning –Protecting and Disciplining –Preparing and Training

3 The Social Necessity of Childrearing Biological continuity of the gene pool (lineage) Transmission of property, power, status in family Transmission of culture in terms of knowledge, skills, identities and values

4 Protection or Preparation: Children make culture -- but not in conditions of their own making Within three years the child has gained control over their body Learned the language and core stock of cultural knowledge Can interact and form social relations with others -- engage in conversation, play and culture making on their own

5 Deconstructing Socialization: Tracing Children’s Culture in Historical Studies Text and Image Analysis: literary, rhetorical, ideological, strategic (Cross, De Mause) Cultural: Oral history, folklore, artifacts, diaries, observations, interviews/ biographies (Opies, Sutton Smith) Documentary: laws, economics, surveys, social movements, official records (Pollock, Zelizer, Cook)

6 Terminology: Childhood, Socialization and Children’s Culture Children: (a category of human subjects: their experiences, demography, identity) Childrearing: familial beliefs, rules, practices - ie family relations as a system of communication Children’s culture: stories, games created by children and transmitted through their peer interactions Childhood - constructed in representations and discourses about children Matrix of Socialization - mandated institutions (family law, schools, child spaces and movements) Children’s material culture - cultural commodities produced for children, children’s cultural industries

7 Beyond Wonderous Innocence: Markets as Agents of Socialization The rise of commerical discourses on socialization, family life and markets; The rise of marketing targeting children as consumers The importance of consumer socialization in the family system

8 Little house on the prairies

9 Father knows best

10 Leave it to Beaver

11 Simpsons?

12 Children before Childhood Hammurabi Law Code - children and property inheritance Children in Greece and Rome –Plato thinks they shouldn’t read poets –Spartan boys are bonded in military training –Alexander is taught by Aristotle Laws and patriarchy: War, Women and Children in Ancient Rome, John Evans, Routledge, NY:1991. – patria potestes – where the father has total control over the child -- life and death; – Plautus: Parents are the builders of their children. They lay the bases of their children’s lives. They raise them up, take great pains to put their lives on a firm foundation. They stop at nothing to make them useful and upright, both as men and citizens, nor do they reckon money spent on this effort as an expense.

13 Father controls: issue of when children can marry; when children can own property and pass it on; when children are no longer under the control of their parent etc. Exemptions notion of infanticide and the emotional relations between parents and children but a law which made juveniles who had lost their fathers, able to borrow money and make decisions without a tutor or guardian (Lex Plaitoria) But children are also valued for their contribution to the family honour and the productive household

14 Aries: Discovery of Modern Childhood in the 17th Century Theology of the Holy Child: - child and original sin –child is symbol of divinity not humanity –Christ has no childrearing Modern childhood: –Children as a distinct stratus or category –Expanding discourse on children: childrearing New attitudes and changing institutions: –Church orphanages –Schools

15 The Child of History? Linda Pollack, Forgotten Childhood “Many historians have subscribed to the mistaken belief that, if a past society did not posses the contemporary Western concept of childhood, then the society had no such concept. This is a totally indefensible point of view - why should past societies have regarded children in the same way Western society today? Moreover, even if children were regarded differently in the past, this does not mean that they were not regarded as children.”

16 Bosch’s Torment of St. Anthony Limited representation of children in middle ages: why? monasticism, low survival rates and the failure of bonding no institutions for poor child under pater familias which explains orphans ie the children’s crusade

17 Bruegel Children’s Games

18 Aries: in the seventeenth C “the family ceased to be an institution for the transmission of a name and an estate - it assumed a moral and spiritual function, it molded bodies and souls. The care expended on children inspired new feelings, a new emotional attitude, to which the iconography of the seventeenth century gave brilliant and insistent expression: the modern concept of the family”

19 Child as part of Household Workforce

20 Child as Lineage

21 Child in Training

22 Educating the Child Early Writers on Childhood and Education (Locke) The role of discipline and control “I would also remark that parents cannot take a single step to advantage in endeavoring to train up their children to piety, without first obtaining their unlimited, unqualified, entire submission to their authority”

23 making children ‘subject to the rules and restraints of reason’. J. Locke, Some Thoughts Concerning Education, ‘great care is to be had of the forming children's minds, and giving them that seasoning early, which shall influence their lives always after.’ “I wish that those who complain of the great decay of Christian piety and virtue … of this generation, would consider how to retrieve them in the next. This I am sure, that if the foundation of it be not laid in the education and principling of the youth, all other endeavours will be in vain. And if the innocence, sobriety, and industry of those who are coming up, be not taken care of and preserv'd, 'twill be ridiculous to expect, that those who are to succeed next on the stage, should abound in that virtue, ability, and learning, which has hitherto made England considerable in the world.”

24 Rousseau and Protecting the Innocent From Civilization? retaining the natural freedom of childhood “May I venture at this point to state the greatest, the most important, the most useful rule of education? …Education of the earliest years should be merely negative. It consists, not in teaching virtue or truth, but in preserving the heart from vice and from the spirit of error.’ ‘If the infant sprang at one bound from its mother's breast to the age of reason, the present type of education would be quite suitable, but its natural growth calls for quite a different training. The mind should be left undisturbed till its faculties have developed; for while it is blind it cannot see the torch you offer it, nor can it follow through the vast expanse of ideas a path so faintly traced by reason that the best eyes can scarcely follow it.’

25 The Child of the Enlightenment

26 Chris Jenks: The Making of Modern Childhood? Childhood becomes key construct in public discourses of modernization: –An idealized projection of progress onto children emerging out of the enlightenment - as children develop to maturity so do modern societies –A condition within which children experience growth and development through learning - education of the young becomes essential to progress Childhood is also a site of conflict because historically we have developed conflicting ideas about progress -- and the values which legitimize children within the workplace, the family, the state and the culture.

27 The Playful Child

28 The Child Abandoned

29 The Socialized Child: focus on preparation

30 The Moralized Child: focus on protection

31 Institutionalization of Childhood Changing Legal Structures of Protection and Preparation: –Family - protected against abuse and harm vs neglect –Community - extended family, peers, and resources for children –State: prov./ federal laws - bullying, pornography, prostitution, ritual abuse –Schools - curriculum set by state (limits religion, values, ideology) –Media - stories and ideas for children: inform enlighten and entertain - Protected from violence and sex for reasons of community taste and harm –Market: Protected from commercial manipulation for reasons of developmental inadequacy The Politics of Childhood: Anti-Child Labour, Sunday school, Scouts, Mass education, Playground, Camping, Corporate, Child Poverty and Well fare Children’s Rights etc. Emerging Child Professionals: teachers, social workers, educational psychologists, family physicians, counsellers, play workers, marketers and writers etc.

32 Children’s Advocates Movements for Childhood Froebel: “let us live for our children”

33 Child Labour

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36 Victorian Childhood Debated Psychology and development - study of maturation, psychoanalysis and the notion of childhood trauma (Freud to Erikson) Schools and Mass Literacy - material to support the transmission of civilized culture; tools of the enlightenment (Foebel; Vygotsky; Piaget; Dewey) Children’s labour as teaching work ethos vs skills and training - chores and allowances (reward vs obligation) Empathizing with children- seeing the world from the childs perspective - the problem of growing up novels turn to biography - Dickens Parental Advisories - professional discourses on parenting and childrearing Schools and Discipline - beating knowledge and obedience into children vs rewarding learning (strict punishment and rules) Children’s peer culture- the playground movement -- street culture is domesticated and disciplined Organizing Peers - the natural child is social: the scouts, hitler youth, mickey mouse club etc. Nursery schools - gardening as metaphor for learning; focus on developmentalism and cognitive growth

37 Educating Girls for Service

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40 The 20th Century: From work to leisure Cultural activities: clubs, community festivals, playgrounds, sports, clothes, radio, films, comics, TV, video and computer games, web sites etc. Cultural industries - designed experiences for children (toys, books, movies, TV, ) Family Ideals and Childrearing Practices - laissez faire parenting, changing punishment and restrictions on leisure; socialization to consumption

41 Improving Moments

42 Children’s status: what’s wrong with this picture

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44 For the sake of the Children

45 Children of Progress: the domestic sanctuary?

46 Play is children’s moral equivalent to work

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48 Childrearing in Transition Psychology: and New Mechanisms of Regulation and Control

49 Conflict over the Socialization of Children

50 The Spock Generation

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52 DeMause: Emerging from the Nightmare


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