Construction of the Highwaymen Genre in Ideology of Youth

March 13, 2022 by Essay Writer

It is not easy to discuss the childhood and youth construct in a particular generic or universal context. This concept however, could be contested both in terms of time (historical emergence) and space (local, national and global). Theorists like Allat and Keil (1987) acknowledge the life cycle approach, where it emphasises how mankind passes through similar stages and similar ‘rites of passage’. On the contrary, theorists like Hockey and James-(1993) believe the ‘life course’ approach, which emphasises that mankind experiences different life stages, particularly in the ‘rites of passage’. The degree to which this is tokenistic or having actual ideological sense is to be questioned. It is fair to say that increasingly, “childhood as a distinct state of being” is an accepted construct across many areas of the world. This construct could be categorised into five-different periods of time-Medieval, Middle Ages, Victorian, modern and post-modern. Prior to the development of the English calendar in 1750, time, dates-and-ages were less significant and people were acclimatised with the season rather than the time. Aries-(1962) investigated that infants and babies in the pre-modern era were cared for in terms of biological needs, however once they were self-sufficient, they were treated the same way as that of adults. DeMause-(1974) concurs with Aries claiming that, the level of childcare was even worse further back in history with reference to the period of infanticide followed by abandonment and ambivalence. Stone-(1977) acceded to both Aries and DeMause, by exploring the dearth of parental emotional involvement of their offspring in pre-modern times. He contemplated pre-modern parents as emotionally neutral.

However, both Aries and De Mause were censured for evading the gender and social position in their accounts. Pollock-(1983) for instance, contradicts Aries for omitting the period of life before the school age and in fact, concentrating only upon education. According to Shahar’s (1992) powerful counter-argument, an abundance of art and literature devoted to specific stages of childhood depict the compassion the children received in pre-modern history. Manuals such as ‘The Babees Book; How the Good Wife taught her Daughter’ and the rise of ‘Miracle Stories’, that depicted how children were cured and saved by the saints in late Middle Ages are evidence that the children received love and affection. Hanawalt-(2002) criticises Stone’s claims suggesting that, parents were emotionally bonded to their offspring. The ‘open lineage family structure’ was seen in medieval times and particularly the patriarchal power was evident. Around 1640, the ‘closed domesticated nuclear family structure’ was established and the patriarchy diminished (Stone, 1977). By the time of the Plague in the late fourteenth century, the discovery of the printing machine influenced literacy in the west.

The Industrialisation led the separation of ‘home’ from ‘work’ contrary to pre-industrialisation and the concept of the ‘mother being the primary caregiver’ transformed. However, in the Victorian era, the dominant ideology of ‘the woman’s place is in the home’ persisted and middle-class females were blamed for most of the social anxieties. Subsequently, during the Second World War, the same ideology of ‘women should be placed at home’ arose, resulting in the moral panic of infant attachment (i.e. Bowlby’s attachment theory, 1957). During the last 50 years, British-Universalist-models were even more problematic due to immigration. Contemplating on the construct of childhood, none of these notions suggested that childhood was the same as it is today, but could have existed in different forms (Jenks, 1996; Madge 2006).

Discussing further, in modern western societies, ‘youth’ is a distinct form and characterised as the period from puberty to maturity in a biological sense. This period is termed as ‘teen angst’, a time of storm and stress in choosing their own identity (Arnett, 2007). This construct could be described in three different eras; modernism, post-modernism and meta-modernism. Claridge-(2008), synopsises the concept of ‘youth’ as the balance of power shifts between adults and young people.

According to Hall-(1924), since the Industrial-Revolution, along with the modernistic philosophies, many social and legislative changes have evolved in order to protect the concept of ‘youth’. Hall also considered the aspect of class and gender in his accounts and demonstrated how working-class adolescents followed in the footsteps of their parents in the same tread while middle and upper classes tended to receive more classical education. Likewise, aristocratic girls were expected to be well-accomplished while working-class girls were destined for domestic support. However, Hall’s laissez-faire threefold ‘storm and the stress’ approach-(1924) on youth construct faded with Piagetian and Vygotskian notions. According to Osgerby-(1998), the concept of “youth-quake”, the strong emergence of youth has occurred since 1950s, which is the period after the Second-World-War. This is where post-modernism began. Attributing to the emergence of ‘rock-and-roll, coffee-bar-culture and fashion-trends’, youth began to find a tailored-image of themselves. For instance, fashion trends of ‘scuttlers, ikey-lads and peaky-blinders’ show the youths attempt to distinguish themselves from adults, the same as today. Attesting on the concept of time and space in modern era, youths seek security from their parents for longer as finding employment and higher-education has become increasingly difficult.

It is clear that youth construct is often and inevitably associated with moral panics. However, Cohen-(1978) sees this as an exaggerated concept of moral-entrepreneurs (media, politicians). For instance, modern-day youth culture is often stereotypically depicted (BBC, 2009). According to Gardner-(2009) the media tends to portray adolescents as ‘Hoodies, and louts’. As a result, the policies and practices altered, the phenomenon, which he termed as the ‘kneejerk’ policy reactions to tackle the moral panics. The former Prime Minister, Cameron-(2010) legitimately extended the powers of teachers to discipline the youth and further gave a speech about “mending our broken society”. This perfectly shows how deep rooted the notion of the youth being the scapegoat of moral outrages exists even in the present day.

Although moral entrepreneurs portray youth as a threat to the societal values, Sutter (2003) believes, meta-modernistic youth are actively engaged citizens, in taking positive actions towards better rights for themselves and others. He further perceives that, the paranoia of youth usage of the internet as a ‘moral panic’. Palmer’s central argument of the ‘toxic-cloud’ (2006) contradicts Sutter and she sees the advent of the internet as a threat to childhood and youth. Similar to the internet, in Victorian times, serialised literature, particularly of the ‘highwayman-genre’ were cited as being the cause of much youth crime during the evolution of the social construct (Oliver-and-Pitt, 2011).

Turning on to policy and practice of children and young-people, the ideological underpinnings based on politics, media and literature are equally essential. In pre-industrial society, church and common laws equalised childhood and adult laws in the West; somehow, educational programs were functioned by the cathedrals for some teenage-boys. Leading universities like Oxford appeared during the 1100s. In the Elizabethan era, these social norms were transformed and many English philosophers like John-Locke’s -(1689) ideologies for instance his theory of tabula-rasa enriched the concepts on childhood. During the early period of capitalism, the Puritans emphasised the importance of the spiritual-welfare of children and they instigated the Poor-Relief-Act-(1601) to uplift the standards of children with poverty. The irony however is that, the Puritans were known for torching and burning children alive as they believed some children to be possessed by the devil (James, 2012). The modern notions of childhood and youth emerged during the Enlightenment and Romantic eras. Rousseau (1762), depicted childhood as the period of sanctuary before human beings encounter the perils and hardships in adulthood. His novel ‘Emile’ was an epiphany in the west.

However, he was criticised as his philosophy portrays ‘nature is good and society is evil’ (Neuhouser, 2014). Subsequently, during the ‘Golden-age’ of childhood a ‘Cult-of-Childhood’ emerged to exultantly celebrate this concept through literature, which is valued to date (i.e. Alice-in-Wonderland, Peter-Pan etc.). The twentieth century is the era where children were positioned in the political domain. Children were conceptualised as ‘future-citizens’ and many policy debates on physical health, education and birth rate were tokenised for political propagandas. However, Hendrick-(2005) condemns this, as children were considered as becoming (developing-adults) rather than being (child-on-its-ontogeny). The new Liberal Government introduced a series of measures for child-welfare. The 1906 Education Provision Act-(Provisions for Meals) and the first Children’s Act-(1908) subsequently manifested a new level of intervention in children’s welfare. Rowntree’s investigation on poverty-(1901) is considered as the foundation of the modern-day-welfare system. His study was indeed regarded as the significant catalyst of the movement of New-Liberalism and established New-Liberal-Welfare reforms in the UK. However, Rowntree’s study receives a certain amount of criticism predominantly from charities for stating that the ‘poor were responsible for their own plight’ (Rowntree, 1901).

William-Beveridge’s report ‘Social-Instrument-and-Allied-Services’-(1942) during the Second-World-War was the blueprint of a welfare-state in the UK and his ideology was the initial basis of A. R Butler’s Education Act-(1944) with its introduction of unified system of modern-schools that have shaped all subsequent educational policies. This initiation enabled the NHS to form a decisive shift of giving women and children full access to healthcare in 1948. Beveridge also highlighted the importance of housing provision after the war. However, after the recession, his system collapsed. By 2006, one-million children in the UK were living in bad housing or were homeless (Shelter, 2006).

By 1979, the Conservatives succeeded and the ideology of Thatcherism opened a new pathway for children and young-people in the political-context. They believed in a free market and the importance of competition (Brotherton, 2010). They established league tables in order to elevate the ‘Education-Market’. However, this ideology created some key problems. The major issue was how to introduce market forces into an area where the state was the only provider of the services.

The conservatives’ ideology under Thatcher, mostly considered family as a private domain and state intervention was minimal. However, the incidents as Cleveland scandal would have been avoided if the state were to be proactive than reactive (, 2001). Subsequently, the Cleveland case prompted the Children Act-1989, which covers a broad framework of child protection and the framework for initial state intervention into families in relationship breakdown. The UNCRC child-rights were also codified and defined in this legislation. Some of the social services in the UK are still operated in an environment created by the Children-Act-1989 (Brotherton, 2010) However, The Daily-Mail (1991) reported the New-Rights’ Children Act as an ‘absurdly impracticable and dangerously ideological’ concept. The United-Nations-Convention on the Rights-of-a-Child-(1989) was the internationally accepted fundamental legal document of individualising children as independent human beings with fundamental human rights. The UNCRC articles were the pinnacle of policies for children and young-people and yet these are embedded in training, education and practice in the UK.

In 1997, ‘New’ Labour, under Tony-Blair, proposed changes to extend “early intervention to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour while supporting families” (Lonne, 2009). Their political-ideology was very much about intervening in the family in order to improve outcomes for all children and young people. Under the New Labour Government, Lord Laming’s initiative of the-Every-Child-Matters-Agenda, surrounding the death of Victoria Climbie in 2003, improved child welfare systems in the UK. The green paper of the EMC agenda (DfES, 2003) and its ratification, the Children’s Act 2004, marked a significant shift in children services in the recent past. However, did ECM mask the real problem? Munro-(2005) criticises Laming’s-ideology, as “tools do not always have the intended effect”. Based on anthroposophical-theories of early educationalists like Steiner-and-Moyle, a play-based Framework (EYFS) was established for early years outlining the ECM Agenda in 2008. Plowden’s-report (1967) also backed this new reform. As House-(2012) specified, referring to the EYFS-Framework and its reform in 2012, the needs of the child have been compromised by over-politicisation. At present, mental health is a booming concern and Theresa-May-(2017) has placed this issue as a key area of Government concerns by heralding in many policies and practices (Guardian, 2017). Royal involvement hoisted its importance of diminishing this stigma especially within the youth and encouraged the society to speak about this issue more openly. Subsequently, the Government has commissioned a review of the Mental Health Act 1983 (Elgot, 2017).

With regards to children’s services, according to the Esping-Andersen Model-(1990) British public-services shadow both social-democratic and liberal-residual approaches in the modern era. Since the industrialisation, the majority of the British population lives in urban-areas and as a result modern welfare services began to emerge. During the last 20 years an unprecedented increase of children’s services, including the CAMH service have become prevalent across the nation. Although it is not clear where the impetus for Child and Adolescent mental-health-services (CAMHS) exactly came from, it can be assumed that this concept emerged since 1987. The main objective of this nationwide service is to serve children and young people who have difficulties with emotional or behavioural wellbeing (NHS, 2017). Fundamentally, this is an umbrella term of an NHS specialist service, which provides assessment and treatment for children with mental health issues by a range of practitioners. In 1989, culminating publications of the UNCRC and its subsequent international recognition of the rights of a child was the turning point of this service (Cotrell & Kraam, 2005). Meanwhile, the Cleveland scandal highlighted the importance of multi-agency working in order to meet the needs of a child. Thus, many services were unified along with CAMHS to improve its outcomes.

Subsequently, in the 1990s Virginia-Bottomley, the former Secretary-of-State-for-Health, commissioned a detailed review named ‘Together-We-Stand’ on CAMHS for its service development. This review elaborated on its epidemiology, provisions of services and the needs assessment throughout the years since its establishment and introduced the four-tier model for CAMHS in 1995 (Together-We-Stand,1995). Thus, the updated CAMHS was organised based on this system. Tier 1 service is designed to supply general advice and treatment for minor issues by non-mental health specialists, such as GPs, social workers etc. Within the Tier 2 system CAMHS specialists (i.e. counsellors) work in community and primary care settings such as clinics and schools etc. In Tier 3, all the multi-disciplinary specialist teams (i.e. psychiatrists, psychologists) are involved with the severe disorders and in Tier 4 a highly specialised team are involved with serious mental health issues of children and young people. Unlike other initiatives, ‘Together We Stand’ triggered a strong commitment to improve the services of CAMHS in its development process. Meanwhile, the House of Commons published a report highlighting the inadequate provisions of CAMHS while encouraging multi-agency working in order to embrace the Tiered model (Home-Affairs-Committee, 1997). Subsequently, The Crime and Disorder Act-(1998) paved the path for youth offending teams to collaborate with CAMHS to deal with factors associated with youth crime. The ‘Sure Start’ programme (1998) also merged with CAMHS and this alliance attempted to improve the outcomes of childcare and the health and emotional development of children. In 2004, the National-Service-Framework under the banner of the Every-Child-Matters agenda confirmed the commitment to the four-tiered service and recommended a need of improving Tier 3 and 4 to enhance its outcomes.

The coalition Government-(2010-2015) were also committed to improve the mental health of children and young-people and the 2011 mental health strategy, ‘No-Health-Without-Mental-Health’ set out new plans to improve the standards of CAMHS. By 2016, the Government had allocated an extra £25m to accelerate plans to improve these mental health services and the NHS targets to give access to an extra 70,000 children and young people with mental health issues by 2020-(NHS, 2016). In December 2017, a Green Paper on Children and Young People’s mental health was published under the influence of Theresa-May to uplift the standards of this ‘Cinderella-Service’ (Parkin, 2017). Nevertheless, the steep rise of self-harm within young people during recent years raises a question on CAMHS service interventions and its adequacy and effectiveness to address most issues (BBC, 2017). According to Munro’s review-(2011), individuals involved with services are “doing things right” rather than “doing the right thing”.

To conclude, in consensus with Oliver and Pitt’s-(2011) model of the contest of time and space, this essay attempts to demonstrate the complex nature and the emergence of children and youth construct. There is a plethora of evidence to prove that the construct of childhood and adolescence has evolved over centuries in par with the social, cultural and political beliefs of the societies of different eras. The ideologies underpinning the present-day policies and practices have been shaped and enriched over many decades thanks to the innovative and courageous moves of individuals who have fought many battles to change the traditions and notions. Yet, regardless of any service, policy and practice, as long as the society keeps children and youth at heart and the credo ‘primum-non-nocere’ in minds, they should be able to cope with the uncertain future.


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