Making Sense of the Social, Making the ‘Social Sense’: The Development of Children’s Perception and Judgement of Social Class

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Abstract

This article presents an exercise in ‘cognitive class analysis’ by tackling the question of when young children first develop the ability to perceive and judge stereotypical representation of class identity. With the aid of a specifically designed visual methodology, 82 children aged 5 to 12, were asked to combine a series of figures into a set of ‘class families’, to assign different amounts of money to these families, to attribute an occupational status to the parents of each family and to indicate their most and least likeable family. Results show that children prove capable of perceiving and judging class stereotypes at a younger age than previous studies have suggested. A considerable number of 5- and 6-year-olds already demonstrate the ability to classify people on the basis of differences in dress and appearance and effectively recognize these classifications as based on differences in class position. In addition, visible markers of class-status also appear to play a role in shaping children’s preferences for different types of families and playmates.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)696-715
Number of pages20
JournalSociology
Volume55
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 29 Dec 2020

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