Norman Denzin presents a social psychological account of how the lives of children are shaped by social interaction, particularly interaction with parents and other caretakers. He examines the special language of children, their socialization experiences, and the emergence of their selfconceptions- all as they occur in natural surroundings: daycare centers, homes, playgrounds, schools, and many other places. Denzin is concerned not with sequential developmental changes during childhood, but with how children themselves enter into the processes that lead to self-awareness, socialized abilities and attribute-such as pride, perceptiveness, dignity, and poise.
Through his symbolic interactionist approach, Denzin shows how language-the key link between children and others-is required in everyday interpersonal relationships and how the sense of self develops as linguistic skills grow. He stresses the importance of play and games as processes by which children teach themselves about social behavior; he also shows that, for children, play takes on the seriousness of adults' work.
Denzin maintains that the definitions of childhood by the 1970s had become detrimentally entrenched in educational and political policies regarding children. He recommends a new definition that recognizes children as individuals seeking meaning for their own actions. This book will be valuable to all social scientists concerned with symbolic and linguistic foundations of the socialization process. A new introduction reviews developments since publication of the original edition. This book raises the interactions between adults and children to a new level.