Sociology | Advanced Topics
S660 | 3677 | Corsaro


S660 Advanced Topics     (3 CR)
Topic:  Social Change in Early Childhood: Children's Transition
from Home to School in the U.S. and Italy
3677 9:30A - 12:30P R    BH 331
William Corsaro

This is the first course of the 1998-99 Sociological Research
Practicum as part of required research training for the M.A.
degree in Sociology.  This year's project is a comparative,
longitudinal ethnography of children's transition from home to
school in the United States and Italy.  The main goal of the
project is to identify points of congruence and incongruence in
the transition process.  The study will document, for example,
the various ways contributions from different environments or
local cultures (family, preschool, neighborhood and community,
and elementary school) are complementary and what ways they may
conflict.  Such documentation can serve as a basis for designing
programs and policies to ease transition problems and promote
children's social and intellectual development.

The study has an Italian and American component.  The Italian
component of the project was completed in 1996.  Ethnographic and
interview data from the Italian component will be available for
data analysis for student papers for the Practicum.  In the
American phase of the study the project director will observe
children as they go about their everyday activities with peers
and teachers in a private daycare center and Head Start center in
Bloomington, Indiana over the 1998-99 academic year.  The focus
of these observations will be on activities in the peer and
school cultures which help prepare or prime children for their
coming transition to formal schooling.  These everyday activities
are seen as priming events because they involve interactive
routines in which children, by their very participation, attend
prospectively to ongoing or anticipated changes in their lives.
The American phase of the study will also involve interviews of
parents and preschool teachers regarding the children's
preparation for and anticipation of their transition to
kindergarten.  These interviews will be conducted by SRP students
with the assistance of the project director and the SRP research
assistants in May and June, 1999.  Finally, the American phase of
the study will include a telephone interview of a sample of
parents (who have children that will enter kindergarten in the
next school year) in Bloomington.  This interview will contain a
subsample of the open-ended questions asked in the parental
interviews described above.  The telephone interviews will be
conducted by SRP students with the assistance of the project
director and the SRP research assistants in June, 1999.

In S566 we will prepare for the research phase of the study
(S567) in three ways.  First, we will review and discuss the
relevant theoretical and research literature on the sociology of
childhood, early childhood socialization, and early childhood
education.  Second, we will review, discuss and carry out a
comparative analysis of various social policies which affect the
lives, care, and early education of young children.  The
comparative analysis will document and compare social policies in
the U.S. and other industrialized countries.  We will also
document policy variations in early education and child care
across the 50 states of the U.S.  Third, we will read and discuss
various sources on ethnographic research methods, face-to-face
in-depth interviewing, and telephone interviews.  We will also
have several short practice assignments involving face-to face
interviewing, telephone interviewing, and analysis of
ethnographic field notes.

All the readings for the course have not yet been determined.  We
will be reading a number of journal articles and chapters from
edited books.  The following books will be required for the
course and I may add at least one additional required book.

William A. Corsaro, The Sociology of Childhood.  Thousand Oaks,
CA: Pine Forge Press, 1997.

Robert S. Weiss, Learning from Strangers: The Art and Method of
Qualitative Interview Studies.  New York: Free Press, 1994.