show that they do not understand the idea of profit. They resort to explanations based on the size of the bottles or on the selling in boxes, which are strikingly similar to those given by children from Madrid ( Delval & Echeita, 1991) or to the Italian ones ( Berti & Bombi, 1981, 1988).
Third, some children who have explanations for the higher price doubt, however, that the original supplier is charging more. This could indicate that children have learned an explanation, but that they cannot generalize it to the rest of the selling process; this would imply that they have not understood the social mechanisms of the exchange of goods. If they cannot extend the explanations to similar situations, they cannot be claimed to have a real comprehension of the process. It appears that there are cognitive obstacles that oppose an earlier understanding.
This leads to the conclusion that both the characteristics of what is being modeled as well as the social transmission has an important but limited role. The subjects incorporate only that part of the environmental information that they can understand. The young street vendors know more about the amount of money necessary for living. This is a matter of fact. But, on the other hand, their explanations regarding social reality are poorer compared to those children who are not street vendors, who probably have stronger intellectual resources and have had longer schooling.
I thank Violeta Demonte, Ileana Enesco, Alejandra Navarro, and Pilar Soto for useful observations on the topics treated in this chapter. I am also in debt with Violeta Demonte and Juan Martinez St. John for help with the English version.
This work has been partly supported by the grants from the DGICYT to the research projects AME89-0175 and PB91-0004.
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