“Raising a Socially Competent Child”: Unpacking the Concept of Social Competence

Eunae Son
page. 93~114 / 2014 Vol.8 No.2


This paper investigates how social competence, as a discourse, has been constructed in the field of earlychildhood education (hereafter ‘the field’) and how the conceptualization of social competence inacademia has been applied to educational practices. Based on Bruner’s (1996) notions of folkpsychology and folk pedagogy and Foucault’s notion of discourse (Foucault, 1972), I identify thecultural values and beliefs in the dominant discourses about raising “a socially competent child”,comparing and contrasting them with cultural psychological studies on cultural practices of socializationand teaching. By doing so, I discuss both relatively overemphasized and neglected perspectives ofyoung children’s socialization in the field. Finally, I discuss the educational implications of culturaldiversity in the conceptualization of and cultural practices of social competence and call for theappreciation and empowerment of diverse values and characteristics of social competence.

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