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Children

  • By: Patrizia Albanese
  • In: Encyclopedia of Motherhood
  • Edited by: Andrea O'Reilly
  • Subject:Sociology of Gender, Parenting, Maternal Health

The status and lives of children around the Western world have changed considerably over the past century. In fact, childhood as we know it is a relatively new phenomenon that is constantly evolving. As the family has changed—from being a unit of production to one of consumption—so has the status, role, and value of children within it.

Children have become a pivotal point of family aspirations for higher social status and cultural retention, among other things. As a result, since the 1950s and 1960s, a great deal of emphasis has been placed on ideas surrounding proper parenting and child rearing. This is evidenced by the growth in popularity of parenting manuals, journals, books, and Websites—all of which have transformed the meaning and expectations surrounding motherhood and ...

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