9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN04 Sociology of Children and Childhood

2009-09-05 09:00:00 2009-09-05 10:30:00 Saturday, 5 September 09:00 - 10:30 Representations of Childhood Building II, C6.02

Children's epistemological and sociological concepts about books and reading or... how peer groups organize books stacks reveals what goes on in children's minds

Children's books categorization by children in peer group is a task that reveals how and what children think about these books. Children's discursive consciousness (Giddens, 1984) is approached by means of understanding the personal experiences they share in peer groups. Physically involved in stacking the books children construe a discourse by interweaving manipulation of artefacts and interaction with peers. Children use texts and images in the books in order both to orient their practice and sustain their discourse. Stacking books in different categories provides an arena of permanent negotiation of intersubjective meanings and demand some clarification of those meanings.
By the end of a two years long ethnography in a kindergarten with ten 4-6 years olds, boys and girls, the researcher talked with the children, sitting on the floor with them surrounded by the classroom children's books. For the first time she asked questions about those artefacts. From the conversations two sorts of children's concepts emerged: epistemological concepts and sociological concepts. Learning versus Listening, Telling versus Reading, and Adults versus Children, Boys versus Girls are some of the children's dichotomies that deserve adult's attention when dealing with children and books.
This strategy of accessing children's discourses about children's books allows the perception of their modes of appropriation, signification and ressignification of children's books as cultural symbolic products made by adults. Together with a participant observation of the peer group this approach anchors children's discourses in their actual daily social practices of children's books use within the context of kindergarten classroom.

I believe ethnography
is, in fact, a great opportunity to research childhood.