In this article Mandell explores an aspect of children’s worlds not dealt with in previous articles: the ways that children interact with one another when they are together. Her particular concern is with identifying and describing the ways that children negotiate meaning, i.e. work together to figure out what is going on, both from their own perspective and that of others. The negotiation of meaning involves taking account of others in the social worlds that they inhabit together.
I have deleted Mandell’s introduction, which is a review of the literature relevant to her topic; references to these works are available in the bibliography. In footnotes that accompany this deleted material, however, she cites two important criticisms that have been addressed to previous studies of children: Markey’s (1928:151) assertion
that Piaget’s assumption that there is no real interchange of thought [among children] is gratuitous. The only basis for saying that there is no interchange is that the child’s thinking is drawn from a common social process but there is certainly interchange in this process.
and Lewis and Rosenblum’s (1975:1) argument that
psychoanalytic and Piagetian theories of human development have so dominated research that they have led to a suppression of active study of children’s early social behaviour other than that directed toward the parents.
In contrast, Mandell describes children interacting in the social world as they do it. She takes children’s perspectives seriously and displays the richness of
From Symbolic Interaction, Volume 7, Number 3, pages 191-211. Copyright © 1984 by JAI Press, Inc. Reprinted by permission of JAI Press, Inc., Greenwich, Connecticut.