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Beyond the Century of the Child

Cultural History and Developmental Psychology

Edited by Willem Koops and Michael Zuckerman

Publication Year: 2012

In 1900, Ellen Key wrote the international bestseller The Century of the Child. In this enormously influential book, she proposed that the world's children should be the central work of society during the twentieth century. Although she never thought that her "century of the child" would become a reality, in fact it had much more resonance than she could have imagined.

The idea of the child as a product of a protective and coddling society has given rise to major theories and arguments since Key's time. For the past half century, the study of the child has been dominated by two towering figures, the psychologist Jean Piaget and the historian Philippe Ariès. Interest in the subject has been driven in large measure by Ariès's argument that adults failed even to have a concept of childhood before the thirteenth century, and that from the thirteenth century to the seventeenth there was an increasing "childishness" in the representations of children and an increasing separation between the adult world and that of the child. Piaget proposed that children's logic and modes of thinking are entirely different from those of adults. In the twentieth century this distance between the spheres of children and adults made possible the distinctive study of child development and also specific legislation to protect children from exploitation, abuse, and neglect. Recent students of childhood have challenged the ideas those titans promoted; they ask whether the distancing process has gone too far and has begun to reverse itself.

In a series of essays, Beyond the Century of the Child considers the history of childhood from the Middle Ages to modern times, from America and Europe to China and Japan, bringing together leading psychologists and historians to question whether we unnecessarily infantilized children and unwittingly created a detrimental wall between the worlds of children and adults. Together these scholars address the question whether, a hundred years after Ellen Key wrote her international sensation, the century of the child has in fact come to an end.

Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press

Title Page

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Copyright Page

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Table of Contents

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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-xi

William James tried unavailingly to warn them. From the modern birth of their discipline in the last decades of the nineteenth century, psychologists have aspired to study human behavior according to the norms of science. Most took physics for their model. Some, such as the developmental psychologists, took biology. But even the developmental ...

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1: Imaging Childhood

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pp. 1-18

The issues that arise concerning children, in both daily life and in a number of scientific disciplines, are characterized by an overwhelming multiplicity. Children, their behaviors, their experiences, and their relationships to other people do not comprise easy-to-identify empirical realities that quickly reveal their structures and functions or their regularities and laws. ...

The History of Childhood

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2: The Child in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance

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pp. 21-42

Medieval and renaissance historians have been part of the twentieth-century fashion for studying childhood, as Zuckerman points out in his conclusion to this volume. The first impulse to study children came from psychoanalysis and the general vogue of psychoanalytical history just after the mid-century. Interest in Freud and the appearance of Erik Erikson's Young Man Luther (1962) inspired new historical ...

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3: Early Modern Childhood in the Dutch Context

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pp. 43-61

"Kinderen hinderen." That is to say, children are hindrances. Young people nowadays don't know them any more, but only a few decades ago almost all Dutchmen could tell you that these were the words of our seventeenth-century politician and poet Jacob Cats (vadertje Cats). So in the seventeenth century Dutchmen still thought of their children ...

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4: Patterns of Childrearing in America

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pp. 62-81

Members of any society carry within themselves working definitions of childhood, its nature, limitations, and duration. In fact numerous, even contradictory conceptions of the nature of childhood may exist simultaneously in a society, a family, even an individual. Adults may not explicitly articulate such paradigms or even consciously conceive of them as an issue, but they act on their assumptions in all their dealings ...

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5: The Birth of the Virtual Child: A Victorian Progeny

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pp. 82-95

The Victorians taught us not only what to think about the child but also how to think with the child. They created the concept of "the child" and then used it to symbolize the meaning of life itself. People have always cared and thought about particular children, and not just their own, but it was the Victorians who constructed what James Kincaid ...

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6: Historical Perspectives on Twentieth-Century American Childhood

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pp. 96-111

Given the number of factors that shape childhood, it is not surprising that key twentieth-century developments took a variety of directions (Elder, Modell, and Parke 1993). Prior adult roles were rethought, amid growing criticism of past repression, and some previous latitudes were also reined in, particularly for boys (Rotundo 1993; Hawes and Hiner 1982). At the same time, novel developments were complicated ...

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7: The History of Children and Youth in Japan

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pp. 112-135

The main task of this chapter is to compare theories and practices regarding Japanese children and youth in two historical periods. Taking the time span between the seventeenth and twentieth centuries (the early modern and modern periods), when, in my view, meaningful comparison in this field can be made, I will focus on the period from 1700 to 1870 to represent non-Westernized, preindustrial Japan, and ...

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8: Childhood, Formal Education, and Ideology in China, Then and Now

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pp. 136-155

Perceptions about childhood in imperial China tend to be a function of our perceptions about childhood in China in the modern period. Our views of modern China, however, are often colored by our fundamental orientations toward domestic and international politics, no less than by our emotional responses to a number of highly controversial issues, such as gender inequality, infanticide, and abortion. ...

The Child in Developmental Psychology and Pedagogy

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9: On Infantilization and Participation: Pedagogical Lessons from the Century of the Child

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pp. 159-182

Like their counterparts in many western countries, Dutch citizens and politicians worry about the moral decay of children and youth, inspired by shocking-but scientifically disputable-measures of juvenile delinquency and nuisance appearing in the media. Many blame the family, concluding that parents have failed to impart moral education. Recently Dutch government officials asked us to advise them, ...

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10: The Nephew of an Experimentalist: Ambivalences in Developmental Thinking

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pp. 183-203

At first sight one might be inclined toward feelings of sympathy when an important and established scientist like T. G. R. Bower has the courage to change his point of view on important matters like those mentioned above. According to the classical assumptions of developmental thinking, the newborn child was a primitive creature: an instinctive animal, with a very limited ...

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11: Developmental Psychology in a World of Designed Institutions

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pp. 204-223

A designed social institution is a pattern of human activity put together by conscious and deliberate human thought, designed to serve human purposes and governed by rules of human design. The institution is designed to be a stable part of the social environment, though it generally changes over longer periods of time, being reengineered in some large or small way to fit changing circumstances and changing ...

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Epilogue: The Millennium of Childhood that Stretches before Us

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pp. 225-242

It was about time. A century was ending. A new millennium was upon us. It was a time to think about time. Time past, time to come. Where have we been? Where might we be going? And ours are studies of time. History is nothing if not a meditation on time. Developmental psychology is the one branch of psychology that pries into change ...


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pp. 243-248


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pp. 249-274

List of Contributors

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pp. 275-277


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pp. 279-289

E-ISBN-13: 9780812208238
Print-ISBN-13: 9780812237047

Page Count: 304
Publication Year: 2012