"You're my friend today, but not tomorrow": Learning middle-class sentiments and emotions among young American children

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University of Michigan, 2007 - 260 pages
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The research first investigates various socialization efforts caregivers make to instill dominantly middle-class appropriate sentiments and emotions in children. Then, it explores how children represent the emotional meanings and sentimental knowledge available to them by socialization processes, and how they manipulate and actively use these representations as the basis for making sense of the world. Detailed descriptions of children's social worlds show that children neither passively internalize culturally appropriate emotions and sentiments nor are they unable to strategically and innovatively recruit emotion for their own ends. Indeed, children appropriate, strategically use, and at times transform emotions and sentiments to construct and regulate social relations among themselves and between themselves and adults. In this process, adult-desired forms of emotion and sentiment are found to be reconstructed and reformulated to meet the concerns of children's cultural worlds. The research critically extends previous studies on children and socialization by focusing on children's active use, refinement, and transformation of cultural resources, thereby shaping their own developmental experiences while at the same time contributing to the reproduction of social order and ideology. Overall, the dissertation contends that unlike the traditional social science view of enculturation as a uni-directional process wherein adults reproduce faithful cultural versions of themselves, socialization is a process of constant negotiation of learning, testing, and growing that plays a dynamic role in knowledge development and processes of social change.

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Children and Socialization in Anthropology
Peer Talk as a Locus for Cultural Reproduction and Transformation
Groundings of Human Sociality

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