Children’s Friendship, Peer Culture and Adult-Child Relations

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SUSS Public Lecture Series 2022: 
Early Childhood Care and Education

Children’s Friendship, Peer Culture and Adult-Child Relations

My research has primarily focused on children’s peer relations and cultures, and I have less often addressed adult-child relations beyond children’s social relations with teachers. However, my research in Modena, Italy made me more aware of the importance of how children’s peer cultures are affected by the relationship of the family and community with children in preschool and elementary school institutions.

In this study, my Italian colleague, Luisa Molinari, and I conducted a longitudinal ethnography of a group of children’s transition from preschool to elementary school. We then continued to observe and follow the children throughout elementary school and on to middle school.

This research compared with earlier work in the United States captured the vital role teachers, parents, and community members play in enriching young children’s peer cultures.

Today I want to share some of these insights by comparing my experiences in Italy and the United States looking first at teachers and then consider family members and the community more generally.


Professor William A. Corsaro 

Prof William AWilliam A. Corsaro was Robert H. Shaffer Class of 1967 Endowed Chair and is now Professor Emeritus in the Department of Sociology at Indiana University, Bloomington where he won the President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching in 1988.

He was the first recipient of the Distinguished Career Award for the Section on Children and Youth of the American Sociological Association in 2013 and recipient of the Cooley-Mead Award for the Section on Social Psychology of the American Sociological Association in 2018. He taught courses on the sociology of childhood, childhood in contemporary society, and ethnographic research methods.

His primary research interests are the sociology of childhood, children’s peer cultures, comparative early education, and ethnographic research methods.

Corsaro is the author of The Sociology of Childhood (5th edition, 2018), Friendship and Peer Culture in the Early Years (1985), and “We’re Friends, Right: Inside Kids’ Culture (2003), and coauthor with Luisa Molinari of I Compagni: Understanding Children’s Transition from Preschool to Elementary School (2005).  He is the coeditor with Jens Qvortrup and Michael-Sebastian Honig of The Palgrave Handbook of Childhood Studies (2009). Corsaro was a Fulbright Senior Research Fellow in Bologna, Italy, in 1983-84 and a Fulbright Senior Specialist Fellow in Trondheim, Norway, in 2003.

He received an honorary doctorate from Uppsala University, Sweden in 2016.

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