Infancy and Culture: An International Review and Source Book

By Hiram E.Fitzgerald; Rosalind B.Johnson et al. | Go to book overview

books have been published on cultural competence. A list of some of these volumes is provided at the end of this chapter in a section titled “General Resources for Literature on Children and Families of Color.”

We hope that this volume broadens the research agenda in several distinct ways. First, study of human infancy needs to expand across a broad range of cultures, and such study must not be confined to an occasional investigation. The occasional oftentimes becomes the standard in the literature obfuscating within culture variability. One study of the father’s role in childbirth, for example, may accurately describe paternal behavior in the urban setting, but may be at odds with paternal behavior in rural settings. One study of attachment behavior may identify between-culture differences in the number of infants assigned to the securely attached category, but fail to provide an in-depth understanding of within-culture variability. This leads to the second goal of the volume: to highlight the need for in-depth study of within-culture variability, using both quantitative and qualitative scientific methods. We hope that this compilation entices journal editors and reviewers to consider inclusion of more descriptive studies of development during the early years of life so that a more complete picture of human development evolves. It is a truism that most of the world’s infants are not white, many if not most live in poor socioeconomic conditions, and many live in families that are not organized as traditional nuclear units (Loukas et al., 1998). In short, we do not know enough about the varieties of human experience. Finally, greater specification of the impact of culture in shaping affective, cognitive, and interpersonal behavior during the early years of life will enhance our understanding of the dynamic interplay between developmentally stable species characteristics and developmentally labile population characteristics. This is simply another way of characterizing the transactional relationship between nature (biology) and nurture (experience) with respect to understanding the processes that regulate the systemic organization of human behavior (Ford & Lerner, 1992; Miller & Miller, 1992; von Bertalanffy, 1968).


REFERENCES

a
Ainsworth, M.D.S. (1967). Infancy in Uganda: Infant care and the growth of attachment. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press.
Althen, G. (1988). American ways: A guide for foreigners in the United States. Yarmouth, MA: Intercultural Press.

b
Bame Nsamenang, A. (1992). Human development in cultural context: A third world perspective. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
Bowlby, J. (1969). Attachment and loss, volume one: Attachment. New York: Basic Books.
Brackbill, Y. (Ed.). (1964). Research in infant behavior: A cross-indexed bibliography. Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins.

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