Development and Socialization

The Center for Development and Socialisation (Director: Wolfgang Edelstein) examined the social and individual developmental conditions of action competence. Its focus was on cognitive, social, and moral competences and on interaction competence in different environments and under conditions of increasing social inequality in the process of modernization. Founded in 1981, the research center existed until 1997, when the director transitioned to emeritus status.

Wolfgang Edelstein, director emeritus of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development and director of the Center for Development and Socialization, died at the age of 90. Click on the page We Mourn the Loss of Wolfgang Edelstein for further information.

The Center’s main project was the longitudinal, quasi-experimental “Iceland Study” Child development and social structure, which investigated the emergence of individual differences in intraindividual development in Iceland. This study assessed (and interviewed) participants from an urban sample covering six social strata and three economically and ecologically different communities at eight time points of measurement, from school entry at the age of 7 (1976) to the age of 38 (2007). Its aim was to reconstruct and explain patterns of cognitive, socio-moral, and personality development in the interaction between ecological and social conditions and the individual stages of development (from childhood to midlife). Supplementing this research, comparative cultural studies were conducted in China (and other Western and Eastern societies) on socio-cognitive development, in particular on the socio-moral understanding of friendship and family.

The aim of the project Schoolchildren’s everyday life 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 the development of social inequality; 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.

Research period: 1981–1997

Further information on Wolfgang Edelstein as Director emeritus at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development is available on the page Emeriti of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development.

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