Reference Work Entry

Handbook of Child Well-Being

pp 709-737

Children’s Well-Being and Interpretive Reproduction

  • William A. CorsaroAffiliated withDepartment of Sociology, Indiana University Email author 


This chapter examines children’s well-being from the perspective of interpretive reproduction. The term interpretive captures the innovative and creative aspects of children’s participation in society. Children create and participate in their own peer cultures by creatively appropriating information from the adult world to address their own peer concerns. In examining children’s well-being from the perspective of interpretive reproduction, there is concentration on children themselves and especially their agency in their collective actions with adults and each other. This chapter maintains that children contribute to their own well-being as early as the first years of life and create highly complex peer cultures in the preschool and preadolescent years. This chapter highlights routines such as sociodramatic role-play, fantasy play, the protection of interactive space, and approach-avoidance play in the culture of preschool children to capture how children’s collectively shared activities contributed especially to their social and emotional well-being. This chapter argues that in their more reflective and emotional friendship processes, their complex games and lore, and their disputes and conflicts, preadolescents collectively build solidarity in their peer relations while also developing advanced self-concepts and personal identities. This chapter also stresses that preadolescent peer cultures are often stratified by gender and status which affects well-being in complex ways both positive and negative. Finally, this chapter maintains that the well-being of preschool children and more especially preadolescents and adolescents is becoming more intricately interwoven with their experiences with the electronic media.