“You’re my friend today, but not tomorrow”: Learning to be friends among young U.S. middle-class children

by Junehui Ahn

In this article, I analyze children's and adults’ discourses on friendship to examine how U.S. middle-class children learn culturally appropriate concepts of friendship. Belying the assumption shared by both caregivers and early research on friendship development that children passively internalize adult-desired concepts of friendship, children creatively reinterpret and reconstruct available cultural resources concerning friendship to build their own culture-laden social world. Moreover, children's creative embellishment of the core concepts of friendship leads to changes in adult socialization practices. My findings articulate the contribution children and their culture make to cultural reproduction and highlight the inherent dynamism of socialization.