The social maps of children approaching adolescence: Studying the ecology of youth development

James Garbarino, Nancy Burston, Suzanne Raber, Robert Russell, Ann Crouter

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58 Scopus citations


This article reports the first results of the three-year longitudinal study of the social maps of children beginning the transition to adolescence. This exploratory study is guided by Bronfenbrenner's conception of the ecology of human development, stressing the importance of a phenomenological orientation to development in the context of ecological transitions. The study focuses on characteristics of children's social networks (the web of relationships in which the individual is involved) as a function of neighborhood type, socioeconomic status, and level of physical maturation. The social heterogeneity of the social network (e.g., the relative salience of peers versus adults) is a primary concern. The child's and parent's perceptions of the network, of the people available to help the child, and the child's friends are compared within the context of ecological, socioeconomic, and maturational factors. The results (for 111 sixth-grade children from three contrasting neighborhood schools) shed some light on age segregation and the overall heterogeneity of the social environments of children facing the transition to adolescence. They provide a context and a baseline for the longitudinal study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)417-428
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of youth and adolescence
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 1978

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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