Peer group play and co-childrearing in Japan: A historical ethnography of a fishing community

Hidemi Sawada, Hirofumi Minami

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3 Citations (Scopus)


This research took a cultural-historical perspective, investigating children's social play and peer group interactions in cross-age groups. Participants lived in a local fishing community which had undergone dramatic changes during Japan's postwar era of high economic growth. An ethnographic description based on fieldwork and the collaborative recall of middle-aged community members clarified the growth process. This community traditionally maintained a co-rearing system to support children during long separations from their parents who were absent for months on fishing expeditions. Through ethnographic descriptions, three characteristics of the children's play and peer groups in this community were revealed: (1) they were constrained by geographical proximity; (2) the play group was hierarchically structured according to the member's age and went through a nine-year cycle; and (3) adults and children, while segregated from each other as social groups, used the same field (the ocean environment) for thier activities. The function of peer group play experiences for child development as a community member was related to the concepts of "community of play" and "prototype models."

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)513-526
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Applied Developmental Psychology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1997

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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