Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Book Reviews -- Children's Social Competence in Context: The Contributions of Family, School, and Culture by Barry H. Schneider

Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Book Reviews -- Children's Social Competence in Context: The Contributions of Family, School, and Culture by Barry H. Schneider

Article excerpt

Children's Social Competence in Context: The Contributions of Family, School, and Culture. Barry H. Schneider. Oxford: Pergamon Press. 1993. 202 pp. ISBN 0-08-0377637. $67 cloth.

Observation of playgrounds, school hallways, and city streets shows that social competence is in alarmingly short supply. In a diverse and violent society, it is difficult--yet urgently important--to define the processes by which children become capable members of a social world. Barry H. Schneider's book provides a timely review of our current knowledge about the contexts within which social competence is constructed.

Schneider reminds the reader of several crucial points: that "social competence" is itself a socially and culturally constructed notion; that children's social competence emerges out of a complex interaction of genetically based dispositions, developmental processes, and contextual influences; and that research on the familial, educational, and cultural contexts of social competence has often suffered from poor grounding in theory, inadequate samples, and simplistic causal explanations.

Schneider makes these points in five brief chapters. The book begins by reviewing a number of historical, conceptual, and methodological issues concerning contextual influences on social competence. Following this introduction, separate chapters selectively review social competence research in each of three contexts: family life (by far the longest and strongest chapter), "school climate," and culture. A brief concluding chapter points directions toward "The Next Generation of Socialization Studies."

Although the graduate student or nonexpert reader may benefit from the conciseness of Schneider's presentation in some ways, the volume's brief review of this extensive, complex research area leads to some omissions and distortions. …

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