There seems to be a fundamental epistemological difference between how we regard modern children and how we understand children in the past
(Derevenski, JS, 2000)
Discuss with reference to either one object type, or a group of objects that constitute the material culture of children.
Conspicuous by their presence (or relative absence), and originating from hand as well as industrialised production, furniture and artefacts for children communicate messages about adults' attitudes towards the child's physical and psychological development; intimacy and order in the family, control, autonomy and personal territory, learning, and above all, the role of play.
In order to try to make sense of adults' material provision for children, it is important to be aware that childhood is socially constructed.
The author Will Self has described the 1990s as having seen unparalleled commodification of the baby, a phenomenon requiring the acquisition of fashionable accessories, largely clothes that are scaled-down versions of adults.
The fixed, static impression of the child as a miniature adult, endowed naturally with naive innocence, is part of the inheritance of the 16th and 17th centuries, involving beliefs in the absolute goodness of childhood,and the 19th century Victorian romanticization of children.
The introduction of anthropomorphised animal elements in design for children, wich became common at the end of the 19th century, served to reinforce adults' attribution of qualities of innocence and virtue to childhood, and to differentiate children's needs from those of adults at a time before psychoanalytical ideas about the nature of childhood began to make an impact. The purpose of life in childhood is not to grow up, but to play, something adults are prone to envy.
By the early twentieth century, rooms and furnishing has distinguished numerous stages in a child's tastes and activities, from the nursery, to adolescence to indipendence. The nursery...