Bewustzijn en Verbondenheid Exploratief onderzoek naar (sociale) identiteit bij kinderen van 6-, 7- en 8-jarige kinderen.
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The focus of this study is the development of (social) identity in children of 6, 7 and 8 years of age. In this study, we interview children of this age to gather information about their awareness of their social identities. The interview we used is based on the intrapersonal dimension of the model of Ten Dam et al. (2003). The aim of our study is to explore awareness en identification of the social categories gender and ethnicity for children of 6-8 years of age. Are children of this age aware of the social categories? How are their attitudes towards the social categories? In what terms (and differentiation) do they think about these categories? We also looked for age differences, gender differences and ethnic differences (western versus non-western). We operationalized the concept awareness in three dimensions: relevancy, knowledge and attitudes. For exploring terms and differentiation of gender descriptions we used the three levels of self descriptions of Damon and Hart (1988): 1) physical appearance, activities, 2) social and 3) psychological. For ethnic descriptions we used three levels as described by Quintana (1998): 1) physical appearance, 2) social-cultural practices and 3) social-economic status. Further, we questioned whether children of this age do identify themselves with the social categories gender and ethnicity. We operationalized identification by the way children feel and take responsibility when a member of their own social category (and the opposite social category) is bullied. Also important in this study, is the (school)context of the children (Kowalski, 2007). We looked for differences in the four participating (different types of) schools as one of the schools can be qualified as a ‘white school’, one as a ‘black school’ and two are ‘mixed schools’. The results show that children of this age are aware of the social categories gender and ethnicity, at a concrete level. In daily situations many children prefer their own gender. However, when asked at a more abstract level children indicate that gender does not matter. The same is seen for ethnic differences. Children are aware of different ethnicities in their school context. However, most of the children indicate that ethnicity in general does not matter. No age differences or gender differences were found. We found significant ethnic differences in gender preference in play situations and in taking responsibility in the bullying situation. Also, we found school context differences, however based on little data. Further research is needed to go beyond the explorative phase to determine the aspects of awareness of social categories and (social) identification as a construct. The interview items, scoring form and scoring manual are enclosed.