Children and Childhood in Western Society Since 1500  book cover
2nd Edition

Children and Childhood in Western Society Since 1500

ISBN 9780582784536
Published March 3, 2005 by Routledge
252 Pages

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Book Description

This book 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 five hundred years.  Hugh Cunningham tells an engaging story of the development of ideas about childhood from the Renaissance to the present, taking in Locke, Rosseau, Wordsworth and Freud, revealing considerable differences in the way western societites 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.

For undergraduate courses in History of the Family, European Social History, History of Children and Gender History.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction.  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?'  Conclusion.  Guide to Further Reading.


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Hugh Cunningham is Emeritus Professor of Social History at the University of Kent.


'...a most elegant survey of ideas about childhood and of children’s lives in modern western society… a stimulating yet accessible analysis of a part of human experience so difficult for the historian to uncover.’

Lynn Abrams,  University of Glasgow, UK


‘…necessary reading for those seeking a fuller understanding of modern childhood.’

John Stewart,  Oxford Brookes University, UK


In Praise of the first edition:

‘…an excellent and accessible starting point.’

Anthony Fletcher, University of London, UK


‘Any reader in search of a clear, well-written, and comprehensive account of the history of children and childhood could ask for nothing better.’

Victor Slater, Louisiana State University, USA