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Children and Society

The Sociology of Children and Childhood Socialization

Gerald Handel, Spencer Cahill, and Frederick Elkin

Publication Date - 04 August 2006

ISBN: 9780195330786

372 pages
6 x 9 inches

In Stock

A comprehensive sociological portrayal of children and childhood from birth to the beginning of adolescence.


Children and Society presents a comprehensive sociological portrayal of children and childhood from birth to the beginning of adolescence. A major theme is the tension between children's active agency and the socializing influences of the family, school, peer groups, and mass media. The book incorporates the most recent research and theories of childhood socialization. Its theoretical perspective is primarily symbolic interactionism which emphasizes the development of the self. The volume features research that documents cultural variations within American society shaped by social class, race and ethnicity, and gender.

Children and Society is organized into four parts, each with an introduction. Part I, "Understanding Childhood Socialization," consists of four chapters. Chapter One reviews how social scientists have conceptualized children, leading to today's understanding of childhood as a social construction. Chapter Two briefly discusses the characteristics of the human organism that both require and make socialization possible, and the characteristics of society that receives the newborn. Chapter Three reveals the range of meaning of the concept of socialization in western and non-western societies and includes a review of the history of western childhoods. Chapter Four offers a careful exposition of the development of the self.

Part II, "Agencies of Socialization," focuses on the major agencies that help shape the development of the self in the United States and similar societies. One chapter each covers families, schools, peer groups, and mass media respectively. "Diversities of Socialization" are the focus of Part III. Whereas Chapter Four presented a general account of how the self develops, the three chapters of Part III examine the variations that are shaped by social class, race, ethnicity and neighborhood, and gender. The single chapter in Part IV, "Looking Back and Looking Ahead," stresses that socialization is a life-long process. It briefly sketches issues of continuity and discontinuity in socialization throughout adolescence, adult life, old age, and death.


"These authors, all seasoned veterans of childhood research, have enlightened us with a book that illuminates our understanding about the social worlds of children. We learn about how children become acclimated to their societies, the major agents of socialization that influence them, and how social class and subcultures help to create diverse experiences for our youngest citizens. Accessible, well documented, and current, Children and Society provides the most contemporary, complete, and accurate overview of the field to date."--Peter Adler, University of Denver

Table of Contents

    Part I: Introduction: Understanding Childhood Socialization
    Complexities of Childhood Socialization
    Limitations of the Study of Socialization
    Organization of the Book
    Chapter 1: Studying Children
    Competing Images of Children and Childhood
    The Natural Development of Children
    The Social Inculcation of Children
    The Social Construction of Children
    Appreciating the Complexities of Children's Lives
    Methods of Studying Children
    Chapter 2: Foundations of Socialization
    Isolated Children
    The Human Organism
    An Ongoing Society
    Chapter 3: Cultural and Historical Constructions of Childhood
    Socialization in Cross-Cultural Perspective
    Children in Non-Western Societies
    The History of Western Childhood
    Continuing Cultural Contrasts: Japan and the United States
    Chapter 4: Basic Processes and Outcomes of Socialization
    Society and Socialization
    Emotionally Significant Relationships
    Symbols, Language, and Interaction
    Language and Memory
    Language Mastery
    The Significance of Significant Others
    Development of the Self
    Play Stage and Game Stage
    Time and Outcomes of Socialization
    More about the Self
    Self Concept, Identity, Self Esteem, Self Efficacy
    Sentiments and Emotions
    Values and the Self
    Incipient Adult Roles
    Truncated Childhood, Premature Adulthood
    A Stock of Social Knowledge
    Part II: Agencies of Socialization
    Chapter 5: Families
    Some Cross-Cultural Comparisons
    Families in the Community
    Families as Groups of Interacting Persons
    Family Composition and Interaction
    Two-Parent First-Marriage Families
    Single Mothers
    Teenage Mothers
    Grandparents in the 21st century
    Chapter 6: Schools
    Preschools and Daycare Centers
    Head Start
    Daycare Centers
    School and Society
    The Classroom as an Organization
    Class Size
    Moral Climate
    Family-School Interaction
    Chapter 7: Peer Groups
    Peer Culture
    Peer Group Structures and Processes
    Play Groups
    Chapter 8: Media of Mass Communication
    The Major Issues
    Viewing as an Activity
    Violent Program Content and Children's Aggression
    The Power of Advertising
    Gender and Racial Stereotyping
    Research Methods in Television Studies
    Content Analysis
    Audience Interpretive Response
    Theories of the Relationship Between Children and Television
    Uses and Gratifications
    Cultivation Theory
    Computers, The Internet, and Video Games
    Access to Computers
    Implications for Socialization
    Video Games
    Computers, Parental Authority, and Children's Autonomy
    Part III: Diversities of Socialization
    Chapter 9: Social Class
    Upper Class
    Upper-Middle Class
    Middle Class
    Working Class
    Working Poor
    The Underclass
    Social Class and Individualism
    Chapter 10: Ethnic Groups, Minorities, and Neighborhood Communities
    African American Socialization
    White European Ethnic Groups
    Hispanic, Caribbean, and Asian Immigrants
    Neighborhood Communities
    Chapter 11: Sex, Gender, and Socialization
    Sex Category and Social Organization
    Sex and the Social Division of Labor
    Sex and Gender Hierarchies
    The Biology of Sex
    The Development of Sex-Related Characteristics
    Nature and Nurture
    Socialization Processes and Agents
    Family Interaction
    The Media
    Preschools and Schools
    Peer Relations and Cultures
    The Complexities of Gender Socialization
    Part IV: Continuities With and Discontinuities From Childhood
    Chapter 12: Looking Back and Looking Ahead
    Socialization in Adolescence
    Socialization in Adult Life
    Socialization in Aging and Death