Cover image for We're friends, right? : inside kids' cultures
We're friends, right? : inside kids' cultures
Corsaro, William A.
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Publication Information:
Washington, D.C. : Joseph Henry Press, [2003]

Physical Description:
xiv, 248 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
Introduction : the importance and autonomy of kids' culture -- "Yeah, you're Big Bill" : entering kids' culture -- "We're friends, right?" : sharing and social participation in kids' culture -- "You wanna know what happened because you're my best friend" : making and being friends in kids' culture -- "You can't talk if you're dead" : fantasy and pretend play -- "When I grow up and you grow up, we'll be the bosses" : role-play in kids' culture -- "Arriva la banca" : kids' secondary adjustments to adult rules -- "You can't come to my birthday party" : conflict in kids' culture -- "Appreciating childhood" : suggestions for supporting and sharing in kids' culture.
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HQ784.S56 C67 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Sociologists often study exotic cultures by immersing themselves in an environment until they become accepted as insiders. In this fascinating account by acclaimed researcher William A. Corsaro, a scientist "goes native" to study the secret world of children.

Here, for the first time, are the children themselves, heard through an expert who knows that the only way to truly understand them is by becoming a member of their community. That's just what Corsaro did when he traded in his adult perspective for a seat in the sandbox alongside groups of preschoolers.

Corsaro's journey of discovery is as fascinating as it is revealing. Living among and gaining the acceptance of children, he gradually comes to understand that a child's world is far more complex than anyone ever suspected. He documents a special culture, unique unto itself, in which children create their own social structures and exert their own influences.

At a time when many parents fear that they don't spend enough time with their children, and experts debate the best path to healthy development, seeing childhood through the eyes of a child offers parents and caregivers fresh and compelling insights. Corsaro calls upon all adults to appreciate, embrace, and savor their children's culture. He asks us to take a cue from those we hold so precious and understand that "we're all friends, right?"

Author Notes

William A. Corsaro is the Robert H. Shaffer Class of 1967 Endowed Professor of Sociology at Indiana University, Bloomington.

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

The world of the child is both a preparation for adulthood and a total society of its own, and these books map it from quite different perspectives. Sociologist Corsaro (The Sociology of Childhood) provides a comparative description of preschool education in the United States and Italy, using participant-observation methodology in economically diverse settings. His research, which began in the 1970s (Berkeley, CA) and concluded in 2001 (Modena, Italy), focuses on children's friendship processes. Topics include conflict, types of play, adult role rehearsal, and sharing and social participation. Interestingly, he concludes that the Italian preschool system, which is more fully integrated into the larger society, generated a richer and more complex peer culture. Ways to improve the U.S. version are also discussed. The Unwritten Rules of Friendship is a more direct advisory manual for parents concerned about their children "fitting in" with peers. Elman (director, Summit Ctr. for Learning, NJ) and Kennedy-Moore (Expressing Emotion: Myths, Realities, and Therapeutic Strategies) rely on research and clinical experience to formulate nine prototypes of children with friendship problems. These range from passive (e.g., "sensitive soul") to more aggressive (e.g., "intimidating" children, "short-fused" children, and born leaders) personalities. Chapters provide checklists for evaluation, social rules such children need to know, learning activities, and case studies. Corsaro's book contains unique and valuable policy insights into early education issues, though the research covers an unusually lengthy time span; recommended for academic and specialized early childhood education collections. Colorfully written and practical, Unwritten Rules offers many tips for anxious parents. Whereas similar books limit their perspective to the bully/victim paradigm, this one covers more diverse personality problems in a somewhat cursory but productive way. Recommended for public library parenting collections.-Antoinette Brinkman, Evansville, IN (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

As he states in his introduction, Corsaro (Indiana Univ.) gives voice to young children. Ethnographic explorations of children's social experiences are infrequent at best, and Corsaro combines and presents his 30 years of such research in a succinct and highly enlightening way. The text covers how children make and maintain friendships, create and cope with conflict, indulge in fantasy and creative play, and adjust to and modify adult rules of behavior. There are dozens of rich vignettes of Corsaro's interactions with children. Each is carefully analyzed to portray children's lives as they are lived presently, in contrast to research traditions that evaluate children by what they will be in the future. Corsaro ends his vivid presentation with suggestions on how to support, appreciate, and share in kids' culture. Children are often the targets of overt discrimination and negative stereotyping. Developing a positive, enthusiastic, present-oriented evaluation of children's lives can encourage positive social changes, since valuing someone usually leads to greater support and concern. Society, and especially academic society, must understand the "complexity and wonder" of children's cultures. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. All levels and libraries. D. Van Ausdale Syracuse University

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Importance and Autonomy of Kids' Culturep. 1
1 "Yeah, You're Big Bill": Entering Kids' Culturep. 7
2 "We're Friends, Right?": Sharing and Social Participation in Kids' Culturep. 36
3 "You Wanna Know What Happened Because You're My Best Friend": Making and Being Friends in Kids' Culturep. 66
4 "You Can't Talk if You're Dead": Fantasy and Pretend Playp. 90
5 "When I Grow Up and You Grow Up. We'll Be the Bosses": Role-Play in Kids' Culturep. 111
6 "Arriva La Banca": Kids' Secondary Adjustments to Adult Rulesp. 138
7 "You Can't Come to My Birthday Party": Conflict in Kids' Culturep. 161
8 "Appreciating Childhood": Suggestions for Supporting and Sharing in Kids' Culturep. 195
Notesp. 219
Further Readingp. 235
Indexp. 237