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Abstract

This paper discusses the division within symbolic interactionism today into the Iowa and Chicago Schools. Taking the position that the differences are potentially reconcilable, the authors present a study which demonstrates some methodological extensions of the positivistic Iowa School in conjunction with some of the insights of Blumer's phenomenological Chicago School. The research employed a quasi-experimental design, the aim of which was to investigate the relationship between cognitive organization of behavior and conditions of age and educational program. Subjects were 117 three and four year old children observed naturalistically in three preschool programs: a Montessori Class, a Parent-Child Center, and a Day Care Center. Quantitative and qualitative measures were obtained through the instrumentation termed the Direct Object Count and by classifying the acts themselves. Via cross-sectional and longitudinal analysis significant differences were found on indices of age and educational program. The overall findings suggest that race and class are not sufficient to explain such differences. The authors conclude that a large part of the behavior of preschool children is determined by the children themselves who appear quite capable of organizing their behavior in accordance with the objective and symbolic conditions with which they are presented.

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