Abstract

Abstract:

The challenge and pleasures of studying child and adolescent peer experiences come from the complexity and the significance of these relationships for development in childhood and adolescence. In spite of the recognized strengths of the current literature on the effects of experiences with peers, research on peer experiences is often limited by an inattention to the effects of the hierarchical structure of the peer system. Experiences with peers are known to be situated in complex and multilevel social contexts. These contexts can be as small (or as focal) as a relationship dyad (e.g., two best friends interacting together), a peer group (e.g., more than two peers interacting together simultaneously), or as large and diverse as the cultural contexts of nation-states. A consequence of this multilevel organization peer research would benefit from the use of models that can account for variables and processes that occur at different levels of social complexity. This multilevel approach would also be multidisciplinary because it would require the integration of constructs typically studied in different scholarly disciplines. We show how a broader and less disciplinarily focused perspective can enrich our understanding of the features and processes of peer experiences.

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