Updated to incorporate recent scholarship on the subject, this new edition of Hugh Cunningham’s classic text investigates the relationship between ideas about childhood and the actual experience of being a child, and assesses how it has changed over the span of 500 years.
Through his engaging narrative Hugh Cunningham tells the story of the development of ideas from the Renaissance to the present, revealing considerable differences in the way Western societies have understood and valued childhood over time. His survey of parent/child relationships uncovers evidence of parental love, care and, in the frequent cases of child death, grief throughout the period, concluding that there was as much continuity as change in the actual relations of children and adults across these five centuries. Since the book’s first publication in 1995, the volume of historical research on children and childhood has escalated hugely and is testimony to the level of concern provoked by the dominance of the negative narrative that originated in the 1970s and 1980s. A new epilogue revisits the volume from today’s perspective, analysing why this negative narrative established dominance in Western society and considering how it has affected historical writing about children and childhood, enabling the reader to put both this volume and recent debates into context.
Supported by an updated historiographical discussion and expanded bibliography, Children and Childhood in Western Society since 1500 remains an essential resource for students of the history of childhood, the history of the family, social history and gender history.
Table of Contents
2. Children and childhood in ancient and medieval Europe
3. The development of a middle-class ideology of childhood, 1500-1900
4. Family, work and school, 1500-1900
5. Children, philanthropy and the state in Europe, 1500-1860
6. Saving the children, 1830-1920
7. 'The century of the child?'
9. Epilogue: 1995-2020
Hugh Cunningham is Emeritus Professor of Social History at the University of Kent.