Development and Socialization

The Center for Development and Socialization, directed by Prof. Wolfgang Edelstein, ran from 1981 to 1997.

The Center’s research projects were motivated primarily by the interest in human development and the social and individual developmental conditions of the competence to act and interact. Research interest was focused on the development of cognitive, social, and moral competence and on interaction competence in the context of increasing social inequality in the wake of the modernization process.


The longitudinal, quasi-experimental “Iceland Study” Child Development and Social Structure assessed (and interviewed) participants from an urban sample covering six social classes and three economically and ecologically different communities at eight points of measurement from school entry at 7 years of age (1973) to middle age at 38 years (2007). The study aimed to reconstruct and explain patterns of cognitive, socio-moral, and personality development in the interaction between individual baseline conditions and structures of social inequality from childhood to middle adulthood. Cross-cultural studies on the development of socio-moral understanding in the context of friends and family were a key component of this research.

The objective of the Schoolchildren’s Everyday Life project was to determine how negotiating solutions to conflicts between peers in school classes contributes to the socialization process of children and adolescents.

Other research focuses were studies on cognitive development, the development of social inequality in Germany since the late 19th century; the reconstruction of sociological action theory, which was of key importance for the research center; and the development of mathematical and scientific thought in the ancient world.


Direktor emeritus
Wolfgang Edelstein
edelstein [at] mpib-berlin [dot] mpg [dot] de