Compare and contrast the approach to studying children’s friendships taken in the Bigelow and LA Gaipa (1975) study with that taken by William Corsaro.
In early infancy, children’s most important relationships are those with their primary guardians and other family members. Initially, relationships with other children are far less important than those with family members. However the importance of children’s peer relationships develop throughout childhood and by the teenage years most young people tend to use friends as their main bases of social and emotional support. Childhood friendships serve as a training ground for future relationships in which social skills, such as persuasion and resolving conflict, can be developed. They also give children experience of intimacy with other children and sensitivity for other people’s needs. The experiences of friendships can compensate to some degree for earlier poor relationships in giving children valuable experience of intimacy. Friendship also allows children to make social contrasts i.e. they can compare their own behaviour with that of others and change it where it appears to be different from the norm. An encouraging environment is associated with good intellectual development. Social interaction with their friends is one basis of such stimulation, so friendship can aid intellectual development. (Erwin (1998))
Friendship may have different meanings to different people at different times. In an attempt to explore a fairly under researched subject, researchers Bigelow and La Gaipa looked at the differences in children’s understanding of friendship at various stages of development. They created a unique means of investigating the gradual changes in the understanding of friendship as children grow older. In doing so they helped to shed new light on the important role that friends play in children’s lives. In addition another researcher was also interested in this subject: William Corsaro....