Childhood and affluence

In: Uncategorized

9 Sep 2007

Helene Guldberg writing in the latest spiked review of books reviews several works arguing, among other things, that affluence is damaging children’s lives. Guldberg counters that the problems are exaggerated and on balance children have benefited immensely from greater affluence.

A particularly interesting passage looks at how the idea of childhood can be seen as relatively new. She discusses the work of Philippe Aries, a French historian, who she describes as arguing: “In the seventeenth century the modern view of childhood first emerged, but it was not until the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, with the advent and extension of compulsory schooling and a corresponding decline in child labour, that childhood really existed in the modern sense.”

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