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Individuals in Relation to Others: Independence and Interdependence in a Kindergarten Classroom

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Abstract Based on the position that children are always separate and socially connected when participating in cultural activities with others, this article offers a theoretical framework for discerning how both independence and interdependence are particularized in children's developmental experiences based on the position that children are always separate and socially connected when participating in cultural activities with others. The current approach holds that independence and interdependence are multifaceted and interrelated dimensions of activity that may be structured in culturally distinct ways as children participate with others in varied cultural activities. In support of this theoretical approach, I present a study of how multifaceted and interrelated independence and interdependence dimensions are structured in a kindergarten classroom in the United States. Analyses of the kindergarten activities indicate that varied independence dimensions (e.g., self-direction, individuality) are inseparable from varied interdependence dimensions (e.g., pursuing common goals, "turn-taking"). The current theoretical approach can be used in future research on the complexities of how both independence and interdependence are understood and particularized in diverse cultural contexts.

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