Social Networks of Children, Adolescents, and College Students

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

4
Preschoolers' Peer Networks in Nonschool Settings: Relationship to Family Characteristics and School Adjustment

Gary W. Ladd Craig H. Hart Emily M. Wadsworth Beckie S. Golter Purdue University


INTRODUCTION

Families have long been the focus of research on child socialization, and only recently have investigators begun to explore the potential joint and/or unique contributions of other socialization agents and settings. In an effort to expand our view of child socialization, several contemporary theorists (e.g., Bronfenbrenner, 1979; Cochran & Brassard, 1979; Hartup, 1979, 1983; Parke, 1979) have proposed that, in addition to the family, children participate in a variety of nonfamilial "cultures" (e.g., the parents' personal-social network, the peer group, the school) that influence their development. Presumably, these agents and contexts may have direct or indirect effects on the child (i.e., their influence may be directed toward the child or mediated through others, such as parents or siblings), and may serve to complement or disrupt the socialization practices of the family.

Over the last two decades, one extrafamilial context that has received increasing research attention is that of the peer group. Although research on children's peer relations began during the 1930s (see Renshaw, 1981), it diminished during the middle decades of this century. The current revival of interest in the peer culture, and the role of peers in child socialization, can be attributed to at least two factors. First, recent social and economic changes have resulted in less daytime contact between parents and children, and increased association with peers in child care settings outside the home ( Bronfenbrenner, 1974; Hoffman, 1977). As a consequence, the peer group has become a much larger part of the young child's life than even a decade

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