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Author Dong, Catherine Claxton
Title The struggle to define childhood: Resistance to the private sphere from the junior republic movement, 1894-1936
Descript 352 p
Note Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 56-08, Section: A, page: 3288
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Cornell University, 1995
Philippe Aries, in Centuries of Childhood, has written that the isolation of children from adults and adult activities, through the conceptualization of a special realm called "childhood," did not begin to gain general acceptance until the 18th century. Aries writes that " (t) he solicitude of family, Church, moralists and administrators deprived the child of the freedom he had hitherto enjoyed among adults." (p. 413)
The turn of the last century marked a period of intense activity on the part of child-saving movements in the United States, leading to the enactment of compulsory education and child labor laws and a childhood far more isolated from the activities of adults. The junior republic movement resisted these changes. William R. George, the founder of the junior republic movement, theorized that denying a child exposure to the economic and political systems of the United States weakened his or her ability to participate in these systems effectively as an adult. " (T) he life of the nation which ought normally to be strengthened, and supported by the training of its youth, is left defective and insecure by the lack of it." (George, The Adult Minor, p. 161)
I explore the various movements of the nineteenth and twentieth century that sought to isolate children and adolescents in a private domestic sphere, comparing these with the practices of the junior republics; institutions where the public/private division had been dissolved. Middle class fears of an increasingly powerful lower class emerge as one of the dominant motivating forces behind many of the participants in these movements
Youths from the George Junior Republic are followed into adulthood by means of the 1920 federal census. The later careers of these individuals seem to lend support to George's claim that youths who interact with our political and economic systems are better fitted to participate in them as adults
These findings suggest that more study may be called for of the public/private division as it relates to children and adolescents
School code: 0058
Host Item Dissertation Abstracts International 56-08A
Subject History, Modern
Political Science, General
Sociology, Individual and Family Studies
Alt Author Cornell University
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