Volume 6, Issue 3
  • ISSN 1878-9714
  • E-ISSN: 1878-9722
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This paper reports on a micro-ethnography of social interaction in an urban plaza in Colombia, focusing on the plaza’s role as an arena for the acquisition of interaction skills. We investigate how children of different ages initiate and sustain interactions with same-age and older peers and the efforts they make to be recognized and ‘visible’. We interpret our data in light of three theories of socialization: Corsaro’s (1997) conception of childhood as “interpretive reproduction”, Vygotsky’s (1978) model of the “zone of proximal development”, and the “structural approach” to social cognition and development (Damon 1977; Younnis 1984). While a social form like the plaza, which is collectively enacted by members of all age groups of the local community, provides children with an extraordinarily rich array of opportunities to develop social communication skills by interacting with older and younger peers, our analysis also demonstrates that children, as they are building zones of proximal development for themselves, play a central role in assembling, integrating, and sustaining the neighborhood as a face-to-face society. In this fashion, the paper illustrates how the micro-analysis of social interaction can contribute to the analysis of social ‘macro’ forms.


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