The social construction of meaning in early infant-parent and infant-peer relations
This chapter suggests that the process of meaning acquisition cannot be entirely localized within the child but must be treated as a socially mediated process. It shows that linguistic imitation was consistently exhibited by mothers and children between 15 and 18 months of age, while it started to appear during infant-peer interaction only at 21 months of age and occurred quite infrequently even at 24 months. The child starts with a modest level of performance in some domain, and then gradually progresses converging toward a complete and mature level of performance through the instructional guidance provided by parents. The chapter argues that infant-parent and infant-peer interactions provide ecological settings on which to base a study of the differences between a context where the child is assisted by a competent partner and a context where s/he interacts with an equally skilled partner. It discusses that shared meanings are developed with equal rapidity in both parent-child and peer relations.