social processes of negotiation in childhood-qualitative access using the group discussion method


  • elfriede billmann mahecha Department of Educational Studies, University of Hanover


Group discussion, Childhood, Socratic Method, Socialization, Negotiation


Group discussions in general can be viewed as a representation of everyday social interactions in which opinions, attitudes and values are communicated. Group discussions with children, who also constitute a real group in everyday life, thus provide us with insight not only into their opinions and values regarding certain subjects, but also into the way in which they assert, reverse, align and (further) develop these opinions and values—a process that I would like to refer to as “negotiation”--within the peer group. These group discussions give us insight into an aspect of children’s culture which for its part represents an essential context of individual development that is not only important aside from school and the parental home, but in fact eclipses both the institutional context of school as well as the context of family life. While in contemporary qualitative social research group discussions are principally carried out with adults and adolescents, children's philosophers have suggested discussing philosophical problems in groups, oriented towards the Socratic Method. The latter aims to stimulate participants in a discussion to reflect independently on a mutual subject solely by means of questions. Experience published to date with children's discussion groups analyzed within a philosophical context and the initial results of the implementation of this form of discussion as an instrument of qualitative investigation led us to also work with the group discussion method in various developmental psychological studies. In this paper, I first characterize group discussion with children as a method of investigation, and then present some examples that focus on the social processes of negotiation, which are an important area of peer socialization. With regard to the latter, it can be observed how children attempt to convince each other, how they achieve (or not) a consensus, and how they deal with opinions that do not correspond with those held by the group majority.




How to Cite

mahecha, elfriede billmann. (2012). social processes of negotiation in childhood-qualitative access using the group discussion method. Childhood & Philosophy, 1(1), 271–285. Retrieved from



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