Reinventing Childhood after World War II

Reinventing Childhood after World War II

Reinventing Childhood after World War II

Reinventing Childhood after World War II

Synopsis

In the Western world, the modern view of childhood as a space protected from broader adult society first became a dominant social vision during the nineteenth century. Many of the West's sharpest portrayals of children in literature and the arts emerged at that time in both Europe and the United States and continue to organize our perceptions and sensibilities to this day. But that childhood is now being recreated.

Many social and political developments since the end of the World War II have fundamentally altered the lives children lead and are now beginning to transform conceptions of childhood. Reinventing Childhood After World War II brings together seven prominent historians of modern childhood to identify precisely what has changed in children's lives and why. Topics range from youth culture to children's rights; from changing definitions of age to nontraditional families; from parenting styles to how American experiences compare with those of the rest of the Western world. Taken together, the essays argue that children's experiences have changed in such dramatic and important ways since 1945 that parents, other adults, and girls and boys themselves have had to reinvent almost every aspect of childhood.

Reinventing Childhood After World War II presents a striking interpretation of the nature and status of childhood that will be essential to students and scholars of childhood, as well as policy makers, educators, parents, and all those concerned with the lives of children in the world today.

Excerpt

Since the early 1980s, historians have been discovering the centrality of children and childhood to many aspects of political, social, and cultural life. Focusing on children in history was not entirely new to this past generation of historians, and the subject had been anticipated by many excellent studies by social historians beginning at least fifty years ago. But the intensification of interest in children as historical subjects along with research in this area has grown enormously during this more recent period, not least because reflections on children’s welfare are currently so important and widespread. As historians give voice to a more comprehensive range of historical actors and listen to contemporary social concerns, childhood has become an important subject of inquiry and offers many directions for study. Children have thus become important subjects in their own right, and we have come to recognize children and childhood as essential to understanding historical developments generally.

Historians of the contemporary United States and Western Europe have been especially active in this burgeoning enterprise, although the field of childhood history has by no means been restricted to the West and much important research has emphasized children and childhood at all periods of history and in all parts of the globe. in the Western world, the modern view of childhood as a protected space separated from both the developing market economy and the broader adult society, first became a dominant social vision during the nineteenth century. As a result, many of the West’s sharpest portrayals of children in literature and the visual arts emerged at that time in both Europe and the United States and these continue to organize our perceptions and sensibilities. in many ways, therefore, modern childhood can be said to have been a creation of that world. Precisely because we have learned that the way we view children and understand childhood today is deeply embedded in the modern historical imagination, many historians of the nineteenth- and twentieth-century post-Enlightenment, postrevolutionary world have turned . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.