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Social Sciences Essay

1763 words - 7 pages

U212 TMA 3, Seanna Brogan Dunseith (B5455868)
Compare and contrast children's lives in Britain in the 19th century with children's lives in 20th century Britain.Experiences of childhood between the 19th and 20th century, will be compared and contrasted with particular reference to: child labour, schooling, children's wages and the family economy and the modern traditions of prolonging childhood. Where appropriate contemporary evidence will be drawn upon to provide statistics and support information explored.Early in the 19th century various public opinions began to arise concerning child labour, consequently this resulted in many surveys and interviews being conducted with working children, it is these which are utilised to evidence the conditions of children's lives at this time. In particular, one consistent theme portrayed in these interviews, was the sense of pride felt by these children and the increased sense of self esteem that providing for their family gave them. Around the 1950's however there was a shift from children feeling obligated to provide for their family to an assumption that children's earning were their own, this fuelled the emergence of the young consumer with a disposable income to spend on whatever they wish, a concept in children's lives which had previously not been evident. (The Open University, 2003)Reports on mining from the 1830's, outline early concerns into the nature of child labour, even stating that adults were moved to tears by the conditions in which the children worked(The Open University ,2003). Despite this, contemporary public opinion was that children should remain in some sort of employment in order limit their temptation to be led astray by a life of idleness and crime. So much so, that in preindustrial Britain, children would perform simple domestic work as soon as they could adequately make a useful contribution. It was not until this work became predominantly factory related that concerns about the appropriateness of this work began to arise (Cunningham, H., 2003). Significantly Thompson (1963, as cited in Cunningham, H., 2003 p.91) demonstrates how public opinion continued to develop into detest of child labour, on reflection in the 20th century he defined child labour as one of the most shameful events in British history.Preceding Thompson, Sadler (1830, as cited in Cunningham, H., 2003 p.86) suggested that child labour was offensive to Englishness; he proposed that nature had not intended children to work and their doing so was medically and morally dangerous, and therefore in opposition of everything which England, as a country of 'freedom', stood for. Later in 1833 'the royal commission', possibly influenced by this growing opinion, imposed the '1833 factory act', this limited the work which could be done by children in factories and also curtailed suggestions that child labour was fuelling unemployment by replacing adults in the workplace. In 1835 however children were still considered...

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