chapter  Chapter 9
9 Pages

Childhood and Society

Review of a Book by Philippe Ariès*
WithJean-Louis Flandrin

The idea of childhood, according to Philippe Aries, has riot always existed. In order for it to exist, it is necessary to have a clear idea of the different "ages of life". If childhood is noticed and attention paid to it, children must appear in iconography, they are rarely found in medieval illustrations. Aries touches on one of the most profound existential changes in Western society: the child is there to be loved and educated, and the modern family has become the basic unit of society surrounding the child and conscious of the duties of love and education. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, there is therefore an increase in the number of colleges, recruiting their students from all classes of society. One would need to examine the sources available concerning educational methods, childhood or family life in order to fully comprehend the originality and the importance of Aries' book.