Sociology of Childhood: A-Level Sociology Explanation

This A-Level sociology article explains the sociology of childhood.

When it comes to understanding childhood, sociological perspectives can provide an insightful view into how we as a society shape and are shaped by the experiences of our youth. Let’s take a look at two prominent sociological perspectives – Berry Mayall’s “New Sociology of Childhood” and Chris Jenks’ “Theory of the Stages of Childhood” – to gain a better understanding of how our behaviour and beliefs affect children.

Berry Mayall’s “New Sociology of Childhood” proposes that the way in which children are perceived has changed drastically over time. In her work, Mayall argues that historically, childhood was seen as a period of preparation for adulthood; however, in modern times, it is now being framed as its own entity in which children can be seen as active participants in their lives and within society. The focus on children as active agents has shifted the focus away from viewing them only through the lens of adults to understanding them as individuals with their own unique needs and desires.

Chris Jenks’ “Theory of the Stages of Childhood” suggests that human development takes place in four distinct stages: infancy (birth-1 year), toddlerhood (1-4 years), early childhood (4-7 years), and middle childhood (7-11 years). According to Jenks, each stage presents unique developmental opportunities for both physical/motor and psychological/cognitive growth that should be taken advantage of. These stages also provide important frameworks for understanding how different life events affect children differently based on age. For example, while an infant may not understand why they must stay at home due to a pandemic, an older child may more easily comprehend this concept due to their higher level cognitive abilities.


Childhood is a complex period that requires us to think deeply about how we interact with young people. By exploring sociological perspectives such as those proposed by Berry Mayall and Chris Jenks, we can gain valuable insight into how perceptions of childhood has developed over time.

Why not watch our latest video: Is the Experience of Childhood Recent Social Construct?