Differences in childhood experiences in the UK by social class, gender and ethnicity

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  • Differences in childhood experiences in the UK by social class, gender and ethnicity
    • Gender
      • boys & girls are socialised into a set of behaviours based on cultural expectations about masculinity & femininity
      • different bedroom decor, toys, chores, interaction with parents, nature of play activities
      • girls (G)  socialisation designed to teach feminine skills & attitudes needed to perform adult role of home maker & mother
      • G  childhood differs as parents see them in need of greater protection from outside world
        • =stricter social controls, spend more time in family home
      • boys (B)  experience = 'toning down emotionality and familial intimacy' to acquire masculine skills & attitudes as breadwinner
      • B rarely seen to be in need of protection from external threats, spend a lot of childhood outside home
      • McHale et al.'s study (20003) found families with limited budgets more likely to invest in activities enhancing development for sons
    • Social Class
      • Upper-Class (U) children may spend most of childhood in private boarding schools
      • Middle-Class (M) children may be encouraged to aim for uni and a professional career
      • M likely to receive considerable economic and cultural support from parents
      • research by Lareau (2011) found M parents to enrol range of cultural, artistic & sporting activities.
        • also encouraged to join libraries and taken on visits to museums & art galleries
      • Lareau (2011) found W parents emphasised natural growth. As long as children provided with love, food & safety, would grow up to be healthy & well rounded
      • Donzelot (1979) argues poor families more likely to be controlled & regulated by state
      • Working class (W) childhood may be more difficult due to poverty.
        • W from low income families don't experience activities & events others take for granted (holidays, school trips, friends round)
        • Poverty increases chance of illness during childhood &  children likely to fall behind M children at school
    • Ethnicity
      • Muslim (M), Hindu & Sikh children feel stronger sense of obligation and duty to their parents than W children
      • Qur'an. Shaw (2000) found young M internalised islamic values & family traditions
        • female children treated in more traditional ways than brothers
      • generational conflict between Asian parents & children exists especially over fashion, dating & marriage
      • likely racism has effects on childhood of ethnic-minority children
      • asian girls often not allowed out compared to young asian males as parents believe more vulnerable to racist attacks and abuse


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