Young Children’s Concepts of Social Relations: Social Functions and Social Objects

  • Carolyn Pope Edwards
  • Michael Lewis
Part of the Genesis of Behavior book series (GOBE, volume 2)


As a consequence of the growing interest in social development, there has been a recent increase in concern for considering the social network of young children, both from the perspective of what children and infants actually do as well as what they believe. Although most emphasis has been placed on the mother-child relationship, it has recently become clear that even during infancy, children enthusiastically interact with a variety of people in their environments. Moreover, children’s initiations and responses to the different people—for example, to mothers, fathers, strange adults, or brothers or sisters, and younger, older and same-age peers_become patterned early in life (see, for example, Lewis, Young, Brooks, & Michalson, 1975). Clearly, almost all young children form lasting relationships with people besides their primary caretakers and make distinctions between people, which has the consequence of allowing them to vary their behavior toward a wide array of people, both those who are familiar as well as those who are strangers. Unfortunately, not much is known about the overall organization of these social relationships of young children. There are at least two different ways of understanding that organization. The first way is from a systems perspective, that is, analyzing the structure and operation of the networks in which the children are involved.


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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carolyn Pope Edwards
    • 1
  • Michael Lewis
    • 2
  1. 1.School of EducationUniversity of MassachusettsAmherstUSA
  2. 2.The Infant Laboratory, Educational Testing ServiceInstitute for the Study of Exceptional ChildrenPrincetonUSA

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