American Sociological Association

Big Ideas from Little People: What Research with Children Contributes to Social Psychology

Beginning in the 1970s, research in childhood studies led to the reevaluation of children’s agency and their contributions to society. In my work on children’s interactions with peers and adults in schools and families, I challenged traditional views of socialization offering the alternative view of interpretive reproduction and associated concepts of peer culture and priming events. I review the development of these concepts and the importance of longitudinal comparative ethnography and audiovisual recording for capturing how research with children contributes both to rigorous reexamination of socialization theory and the field of social psychology more generally. In particular, I focus on the expansion of two theoretical concepts in my work related to the general notion of interpretive reproduction: (1) nonlinear and collective reproductive versus linear stage views of socialization and human development and (2) micro dramas in collective routines in peer culture. In the review of my methods and theory and in the expansion of my theoretical concepts, I continually raise issues regarding reexamination of Mead’s play and game stage and for the need to radically alter or even abandon the traditional concept of socialization.


William A. Corsaro





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