Katherine Nelson re-centers developmental psychology with a revived emphasis on development and change, rather than foundations and continuity. She argues that children be seen not as scientists but as members of a community of minds, striving not only to make sense, but also to share meanings with others. A child is always part of a social world, yet the child’s experience is private. So, Nelson argues, we must study children in the context of the relationships, interactive language, and culture of their everyday lives.
Nelson draws philosophically from pragmatism and phenomenology, and empirically from a range of developmental research. Skeptical of work that focuses on presumed innate abilities and the close fit of child and adult forms of cognition, her dynamic framework takes into account whole systems developing over time, presenting a coherent account of social, cognitive, and linguistic development in the first five years of life.
Nelson argues that a child’s entrance into the community of minds is a slow, gradual process with enormous consequences for child development, and the adults that they become. Original, deeply scholarly, and trenchant, Young Minds in Social Worlds will inspire a new generation of developmental psychologists.