Social Networks of Children, Adolescents, and College Students

By Suzanne Salzinger; John Antrobus et al. | Go to book overview

Part V
CROSS-CULTURAL WORK ON CHILDREN'S SOCIAL NETWORKS

The book concludes with a section describing the social networks of children raised in cultures that in many ways contrast with the American culture which has been the setting of the studies presented in the earlier sections.

A few general points should be made here about cross-cultural research on children's networks. To interpret the findings on American children's patterns of social contact, it is important to place them in a broader human framework. Contemporary American households, family connections, and disjunctions between work and nonwork (or school and nonschool) settings, as well as such values as privacy and personal achievement, are far from being universal cultural forms, and all of them are significant for children's social development. For example, American children do not characteristically have direct personal experience of their parents (or other family members) in their work roles, and have personal contact with few if any of the family members' workmates -- a basic realm of activity and interaction in their own society that is largely invisible to them. It would be interesting to trace the implications of this for children's cognitive social worlds, in part through comparison with societies (like the Yoruba) which only recently and in very modern occupations have separated the work world from the children's worlds. Or, again, it would be interesting to compare the effect of a cultural value on private space (one's own room) and private time, as contrasted with an almost opposite value on shared children's space and time.

In attempting to understand any process, one must distinguish between situationally specific relationships between variables and those that hold

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