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A Girl’s ChildhoodPsychological Development, Social Change, and The Yale Child Study Center$
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Linda C. Mayes and Stephen Lassonde

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780300117592

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300117592.001.0001

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“The Child” and Family Life at Midcentury

“The Child” and Family Life at Midcentury

(p.12) 1 “The Child” and Family Life at Midcentury
A Girl’s Childhood

Stephen Lassonde

Yale University Press

This chapter focuses on the child at mid-century and the qualitative difference between the experiences of discernible cohorts in historical time, first by looking at the decades just before the 1950s. More specifically, it considers trends during the Great Depression and World War II, as well as the “family building” ethos and expert prescriptions for childrearing during the postwar period. It also qualifies the meaning of “the child” as a historically constructed subject by analyzing the boundary between child and adult, and reflects on the acceptance and enforcement of this boundary across the social spectrum. In addition, the chapter explains how the definition, use, and experiences of children have varied widely across cultures. Finally, it discusses the paradoxical study of child development in history and how social historians (and historical sociologists) dropped the use of the concept of generation in favor of “cohort” in their research.

Keywords:   children, Great Depression, World War II, family building, childrearing, child, adult, child development, generation, cohort

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