Although psychologists by training, John and Elizabeth Newson have more aptly been described as pioneers in social ecology; they work from the conviction that the causes and the consequences of child-rearing attitudes can fruitfully be investigated only in the framework of the total social environment in which they occur. This book continues their analysis of child rearing in an English urban setting.
To this project the Newsons have brought the rigorous research techniques of their scientific background; but they do not undervalue the practical experience of parenthood which has taught them to distrust the magical short cuts to "understanding" child development offered by the various theoretical schools of thought. They believe that much of the theory-building has been premature and that there is an urgent need for detailed descriptive studies of how parents do in fact treat their, children and, equally important, how children treat their parents: the constant two-way interaction through which the pattern of family life is evolved.
The four-year-old child has been much discussed from the angle of nursery school education: this book breaks new ground in its description of nursery-age children in the much more basic and intimate context of the home. Written without recourse to unnecessary technical jargon, it will be of absorbing interest to every intelligent parent and indeed to anyone looking for new insights into the working of our society. For teachers, doctors, nurses, and all whose profession it is to work with young children or with their families, it will be both essential and enjoyable reading.