Growing Up: The History of Childhood in a Global Context by Peter N Stearns

By Peter N Stearns

Explores a missed, but primary characteristic of background and society

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This is not a rehash of the outmoded modern-premodern debate, but the outcome of comparisons suitably directed at agricultural civilizations more generally. If the distinctiveness stands up to a new discussion, the implications are intriguing: First, of course, for premodern Europe itself—are there echoes of distinctive childhoods in larger social institutions or the qualities of adults? But second, for the later process of modern change. For the first huge dents in 45 46 Hunt, Parents and Children.

And the fact was, though often only hesitantly realized, that girls and boys could perform with roughly equal skill at school, the new childhood function; indeed, girls might turn out to have an edge. 15 But the fact was that the traditional basis for arguing 13 Viviana Zelizer, Pricing the Priceless Child: The Changing Social Value of Children (New York: Basic Books, 1985); see also Stearns, Anxious Parents. 14 Linda Clark, Schooling the Daughters of Marianne: Textbooks and the Socialization of Girls in Modern French Primary Schools (Albany: State University of New York, 1984).

It spread further when beauty standards began more stringently to emphasize slenderness. Many girls lost confidence in their own bodies, and felt against all evidence that they were drastically overweight. By the later twentieth century anorexia was spreading to many societies. One of the early results of the advent of television and Western media fare in the Pacific Islands was a huge increase in anorexia and bulimia, as local girls contrasted their bodies with the standards being touted on screen.

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