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Chapter

an290 Child Care and Culture - Lessons from Africa

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Department
Anthropology
Course
CAS AN 290
Professor
Laurie La Porte
Semester
Fall

Description
Child Care and CultureLessons from AfricaForewordsocializationthe process through which individuals acquire the knowledge skills and dispositions that enable them to participate as more or less effective members of groups and the societysocialization studies have been decliningsocialization studies pay too much attention to structure and not enough to agencygender socialization exampleshopping at the mall girls side is pink boys side is bluedifferent personalities cause mothers to treat infants in the two cultures differentlyanother difference is seen in the temporal distribution of maternal attention over the first 2 yearsoin American maternal attention increases over time they frequently ask questions questions and praise are essential to learning and social engagement othe Gusii try to keep their babies calm and avoid positivenegative arousal states Americans and Gusii have different cultural goals othe Gusii have high infant death rate so mothers provide infants with intensive care during the first 2 years of life and value having children othe average woman bear 10 children and lose 2 oit is customary for mothers to return to work after the baby turns 2 so the care of young are often shared with older siblings oConversations between mother and child are not encouraged or expected More frequent is the kind of interaction in which a toddler asks for something and the mother gives it or the mother issues a command and the toddler obeys with actions not wordsoGusii parents then can expect their children to be easy to manage and to participate in domestic production and help their parents as adults oas adults the Gusii restraint from emotional expression rooted in modes of maternal care from their earliest infancyThe Comparative Study of Child Careideology has also played a role in preventing a simple reading of the answers to questions of child development from world cultural diversity in child rearing african customs of breastfeeding on demand for 1836 months could now be interpreted as overindulgence and according to Freud as excessive gratification at the oral stage of psychosexual development Meads basic message to the child development field To understand how children grow up under varied environmental conditions one must be willing to go to where those conditions already exist to examine them with respect and in detail and to change ones assumptions in the face of new observations some fundamental issues Mead recognized on childhood environments that should be addressed ouniversality variability heredity and environment normality and pathology
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