Children's Understanding of Society

Children's Understanding of Society

Children's Understanding of Society

Children's Understanding of Society


A state-of-the-art review of the research in this area, this collection covers children's understanding of family, school, economics, race, politics and gender roles. Recent changes and trends in research are summarised. This is explained in terms of a progression from the Piagetian stages model of development to the current emphasis on socially-mediated sources of information, socio-cultural context and children's own na¿ve theories about societal phenomena. Bringing together some of the most prominent and active researchers in this field this volume presents an advanced overview of developments in this under-represented area of social psychology.


Martyn Barrett and Eithne Buchanan-Barrow

Department of Psychology, University of Surrey, uk

All children are born into, and grow up within, particular societies. Each of these societies contains many different institutions and is regulated by some kind of common economic, political, and legal systems. These societal institutions and systems facilitate, shape, regulate, and constrain many of the activities and behaviours in which individuals engage throughout the course of their everyday lives. For the developing child, a crucial aspect of the process of growing up is to acquire an understanding of these societal institutions and systems, so that by the time adulthood is attained, he or she will be able to function appropriately within the particular society in which he or she lives, and can engage with and participate in (and possibly even change) the various societal institutions, systems, and processes that influence and govern the lives of individuals within that society.

In addition, the societies within which children grow up are internally differentiated in a number of ways, for example, in terms of gender groups, social class groups, occupational groups, racial groups, ethnic groups, national groups, etc. a further important task facing the developing child is to learn about the various groups that characterise his or her own society, to establish a sense of personal identity in relationship to some of the available groups, and to internalise those norms, values, representations, and practices that are relevant for the groups to which a sense of personal belonging is established.

This book offers the reader a state-of-the-art review of the research literature on children's societal cognition. Taken together, the chapters

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