South African children's understandings and perceptions of 'rich' and 'poor' : a sociocultural perspective.
Given the focus on cognitive-developmental trends in how children understand rich and poor, many researchers have developed a concern that research has ignored the influences of children's contexts. For this reason this study aimed to build on previous research (particularly that by Leahy, 1981, and by Bonn et al.,1999) by combining the cognitive-developmental model with the need to recognize contextual influences inherent in children's understandings of social constructs, while relating this to a theoretical framework which can provide a more thorough picture of the way in which children understand rich and poor. This was done using a qualitative interpretive design. Specifically this involved a combination of focus groups and drawing activities with a group of 20 South African children from a local government, former model C, primary school located in a relatively lower socioeconomic area in Pietermaritzburg, in which their perspectives and understandings of socioeconomic status were explored. In applying the sociocultural approach in data analysis, Rogoff's (1995, 1998) notion of the sociocultural three planes of analysis were used to examine how the children's accounts reflect the personal, interpersonal, and contextual factors. Within each of these planes, the principles and methods of a sociocultural discourse analysis using interpretive repertoires was applied, with a focus on the respective level. Results revealed that while the trends in the children's ideas were consistent with Leahy's (1981) cognitive developmental trends, the particular ideas expressed by the children were embedded and predominantly informed by the social and cultural context of the interpersonal group, their everyday lives, and South African society.