Recent Symbolic Interactionist Perspectives

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Recent Symbolic Interventionist Perspectives
The symbolic interventionist approach emphasizes that socialization is a collective process in which children are active and creative agents. not just passive recipients of the socialization process. From this view. childhood is a socially constructed category (Adler and Adler, 1998).

Children are capable of actively constructing their own shared meanings as they acquire language skills and accumulate interactive experiences (Qvortrup, 1990). According to the sociologist William A. Corsaro's (I985, 1997) "orb web model," children's cultural knowledge
reflects not only the beliefs of the adult world but also the unique interpretations and aspects of the children's own peer culture. Corsaro (1992: 162) states that peer culture is "a stable set of activities or routines, artifacts, values, and concerns that children produce and share.

" This peer culture emerges through interactions as children "borrow" from the adult culture but transform it so that it fits their own situation. Based on ethnographic studies of u.s. and Italian preschoolers, Corsaro found that very young children engage in predictable patterns of interaction. For example, when playing together, children often perm it some children to gain access to their group and play area while preventing others from becoming a part of their group. Children also play "approach- avoidance" games in which they alternate between approaching a threatening person or group and then running away. In fact, Corsaro (1992) believes that the peer group is the: most Significant public realm for children. (Peer groups as agents of socialization are discussed later in the chapter.) This approach contributes to our knowledge about and development because it focuses on group life rather than individuals. Researchers using this approach "look at social relations. the organization and meanings of social situations. and the collective practices through which children create and recreate key constructs in their daily interactions" (Adler and Adler. 1998: 10; see also Thome. 1993; Eder, 1995).