Chapter 3: Enculturation Print glossary pg.89 and summary pg. 86 and any important
-What happens during development that makes people of different cultures different? What
are the relative influences of parents, families, extended families, schools, and other social
institutions? Are people born with inherent, biological predispositions to behavioral and
cultural differences, or are such differences due entirely to environment and upbringing?
-This chapter examines how the process of enculturation works. That is, how do people come
to acquire their cultures?
-First, we discuss how humans are different from other animals in their ability to acquire
culture. Then we define and compare two important terms in this area of study:
enculturation and socialization.
HUMANS ENGAGE IN CULTURAL LEARNING
-An ability that humans have that other animals do not is the ability to share intentions with
one another. In other words, humans can get into another person’s mind, see things from
that person’s point of view, understand the intentions of that person, and understand that
the person understands our own intentions too. This unique
ability of humans to engage in shared intentionality allows us to engage in “cultural
learning”—that is, learning not only from others but through others.
-In one study, he compared two types of great apes (chimpanzees and orangutans) to two-
year old human children.
The children were much more sophisticated than the great apes in the ways they thought
about the social world. Children understood intentionality, social learning, and social
communication on a much deeper and complex level than the great apes.
-Tomasello proposes that this facility with social learning and communication provides the
foundation for cooperation with other humans; this fundamental ability to cooperate is the
basis for participating successfully in a cultural group. Because humans are intrinsically able
to learn from one another and collaborate together as a group on a much more complex and
larger scale than all other animals, only humans are capable of creating culture.
ENCULTURATION AND SOCIALIZATION
One aspect of childhood that is constant across cultures is that people emerge from this
period with a wish to become competent, productive adults. Cultures differ, however, in
exactly what they mean by “competent” and “productive.”
Each culture has some understanding of the adult competencies needed for adequate
functioning , but these competencies differ by culture and environment. For example,
children who need a formal education to succeed in their culture are likely to be exposed to
these values early in childhood. These children are likely to receive books and instruction at
a young age.
By the time we are adults, we have learned many cultural rules of behavior and have
practiced those rules so much that they are second nature to us. Culture must be learned through a prolonged process, over a considerable period of time,
with much practice.
This learning involves all aspects of the learning processes that psychologists have identified
over the years, including classical conditioning, operant conditioning, and social learning.
Socialization is the process by which we learn and internalize the rules and patterns of the
society in which we live. This process, which occurs over a long time, involves learning and
mastering societal norms, attitudes, values, and belief systems. The process of socialization
starts early, from the very first day of life.
Enculturation. This is the process by which youngsters learn and adopt the ways and
manners of their specific culture.
Socialization generally refers to the actual process and mechanisms by which people learn
the rules of society. Enculturation generally refers to the products of the socialization
process—the subjective, underlying, psychological aspects of culture that become
internalized through development.
The similarities and differences between the terms socialization and enculturation are
thus related to the similarities and differences between the terms society and culture.
Socialization (and enculturation) agents are the people, institutions, and organizations that
exist to help ensure that socialization (or enculturation) occurs. The first and most important
of these agents is parents.
Siblings, extended families, peers, and organizations such as schools are important
socialization and enculturation agents for many people.
Through the socialization process, culture is enforced and reinforced by so many people and
institutions that it is no wonder we all emerge from the process as masters of our own
Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory of Human Development See Figure
3.1 page 65.
Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory provides a useful framework for organizing the
many dimensions of enculturation
In Bronfenbrenner’s view, human development is a dynamic, interactive process between
individuals and various ecologies that range from the proximal, immediate environment to
the more distal. These environments include the:
microsystem (the immediate surroundings, such as the family, school, peer group, with
which children directly interact)
mesosystem (the linkages between microsystems, such as between school and family),.
exosystem (the context that indirectly affects children, such as parent’s workplace).
macrosystem (culture, religion, society).
chronosystem (the influence of time and history on the other systems).
Bronfenbrenner argues that it is only by examining the child in relation to his or her
contexts, can we understand how a child develops. Children don't passively absorb cultural information rather children also contribute to their
own development by influencing and interacting with the people, groups, and institutions
around them. Thus, children are active producers and architects of their own development.
Another useful framework to understand enculturation is Super and Harkness’ notion of a
developmental niche. The developmental niche focuses on how the broader macrosystem
structures the child’s
immediate microsystems. The developmental niche includes three major components:
-the physical and social setting,
-the customs of child care and child rearing
-the psychology of the caregivers.
The developing child is influenced by the interaction between these 3 components.
CULTURE, PARENTING, AND FAMILIES
-The most important microsystem to a child’s development is the family, and parents are the
most important socialization agents
-Margaret Mead, proposed that by observing parents, we are observing the essence of a
culture. By examining the way that parents interact with their children, we can see how
cultural rules and values are reinforced and passed on
from generation to generation
Whiting and Whiting’s Six Cultures Study
-Beatrice and John Whiting in their Six Cultures Study: most in-depth and well-known studies
of parenting, children, and culture.
-The major focus of the project was to systematically examine child rearing and children’s
behavior in these varied cultural contexts.
1)A child who grew up in a society of hunters and gatherers versus a society of urban
dwellers had very different experiences regarding whom the child spent time with, what
activities the child was exposed to, and what behaviors and personality traits were valued,
emphasized, and encouraged.
2)by observing parenting and child development across different cultures, the Whitings
could show how a child’s behavior and personality is, in fact, intimately connected to
characteristics of the broader ecology.