Mounting evidence that selves vary substantially within and across cultures has focused increased attention on the process by which different construals of self develop. In this study we examine personal story telling as a medium through which European American youngsters begin to construct selves that bear the imprint of an autonomous cultural framework. We compared families from 2 European American urban communities, one working class and the other middle class. The study was observational, with data points at 2,6 and 3,0, totaling 8 hr of observation per child and yielding 400 naturally occurring co-narrations. In both communities, family members participated with young children in ways that encouraged them to have autonomous selves. Children were not only allowed extensive rights to speak of their past experiences, but were also granted limited rights to author their experiences. At the same time, the communities differed in the versions of autonomy that they promoted: To express one's view is a natural right for middle-class children, but something to be earned and defended for working-class children.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Developmental and Educational Psychology