Friendships

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Bigelow and La Gaipa (1975) observed children’s friendships by asking a number of children to write an essay about their best friend using the approach called “content analysis”. William Corsaro however dictates that in order to study children you must study them in the context of their own peer culture, he used the “ethnographic approach”. In this essay I shall attempt to compare and contrast the approach used by Bigelow and La Gaipa (1975) and that taken by William Corsaro (2006).

In the early 1970’s little was known regarding children’s friendships. Bigalow and La Gaipa (1975) assessed developmental differences by having grade school children write 480 essays on what they expected of their best friend that was not expected from other acquaintances. There were sixty children selected to take part in this study ranging from ages six and fourteen, and divided equally into girls and boys. William Corsaro’s (2006), approach was somewhat different to Bigalow and La Gaipa (1975). Corsaro (2006), observed children by socially interacting with them and observed their behaviour using the “reactive method”. By becoming part of this group he believed that once you re accepted by the group you will become familiar to them and important issues will be shared amongst their peers enabling him to get a more of a complex picture of what is happening within the group.

The difference between the two is that Corsaro (2006), is not interested in translating the children’s words into numbers and looking for a general pattern, he claims that his participant-observer approach to child study is both a theoretical and methodical departure from the more traditional research strategies. Bigalow and La Gaipa’s (1975),study was designed to assess what children disclosed what they liked and disliked about their friends. Before the essays were written Bigalow and La Gaipa (1975) formed a list of contrasting characteristics of a best friend and awaited the results.

Although there are...
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