Social Networks of Children, Adolescents, and College Students

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

Part II
THE SOCIAL NETWORKS OF PRESCHOOL AND SCHOOL-AGE CHILDREN

The chapters in this part dealing with young preschool and school-age children address the major issues and problems, both methodological and conceptual, in current research on children's networks. The work is primarily descriptive and empirical, reflecting the need to obtain basic parametric data in a young field whose relationship to theoretical issues in child development has not yet been clearly conceptualized.

As a result, however, there is a great deal of normative data presented here, which should provide other researchers venturing into the area with useful points of comparison. Indeed, these data already provide some basis for comparison not only among the studies presented here but with the few children's network studies published previously as well.

A number of themes are struck throughout these chapters. There is first the assessment of some of the structural parameters of children's networks -- overall size and composition of the networks. Composition is examined in terms of the relative amount of contact that the children have with adults and peers and with kin and nonkin. This balance of network components is examined in two of the chapters ( Feiring & Lewis, chapter 5; and Cochran & Riley, chapter 6) as a function of the children's gender and the ecological niche of their families, defined in terms of the demographic variables of socioeconomic status (both studies); race; and family type, i.e., one- or twoparent families ( Cochran & Riley). The Cochran and Riley study concludes that the significant determinants of the child's network have to do not so much with the family's socioeconomic standing per se as with the mother's attitudes and expectations generated through her educational experiences,

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