The Genesis of Self in Early Childhood

Norman K. Denzin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The works of Cooley, Mead, and Piaget on the genesis and emergence of self in early childhood are examined in light of recent research in developmental linguistics and assessed in terms of the author's own participant observation studies in preschools. Central to the emergence of self is the acquisition of language which is conceptualized as a conversation of gestures. Young children take the standpoint of others and present selves as early as one year of age. The level of reflexivity present in their behaviors is a function of the complexity of the situation and the degree of familiarity with the objects confronted in that setting. Naturalistic studies of early childhood are proposed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)291-314
Number of pages24
JournalSociological Quarterly
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1972

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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