Developing an understanding of social norms and games : Emotional engagement, nonverbal agreement, and conversation

Theory and Psychology 24 (6):737–754 (2014)
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The first part of the article examines some recent studies on the early development of social norms that examine young children’s understanding of codified rule games. It is argued that the constitutive rules than define the games cannot be identified with social norms and therefore the studies provide limited evidence about socio-normative development. The second part reviews data on children’s play in natural settings that show that children do not understand norms as codified or rules of obligation, and that the norms that guide social interaction are dynamic, situated, and heterogeneous. It is argued that normativity is intersubjective and negotiable and starts to develop in the first year, emerging as a practical skill that depends on participatory engagement. Three sources of compliance are discussed: emotional engagement, nonverbal agreement, and conversation

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Ingar Brinck
Lund University


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