Cross-Cultural Roots of Minority Child Development

Cross-Cultural Roots of Minority Child Development

Cross-Cultural Roots of Minority Child Development

Cross-Cultural Roots of Minority Child Development


This book constitutes the first time in the field of developmental psychology that cross-cultural roots of minority child development have been studied in their ancestral societies in a systematic way--and by an international group of researchers. Most child development and child psychology texts take cultural diversity in development into account only as an addendum or as a special case--it is not integrated into a comprehensive theory or model of development. The purpose of this text is to redress this situation by enlisting insiders' and outsiders' perspectives on socialization and development in a diverse sampling of the world's cultures, including developing regions that often lack the means to speak for themselves in the arena of international social science.

The unique feature of this text is the paradigm. For the minority groups represented, the questions focused on how development was behaviorally expressed within the culture of origin and in new societal contexts. Thus, developmental issues--such as language and mother-child interactions--for African-American children are considered in the United States as well as in the African culture of origin and in France as a country of immigration. This paradigm is considered for African and Asian cultures and the Americas, including Hispanics from Mexico as well as Native Americans.

Specific questions posed consider the extent to which:

• the development and socialization of minority children can be seen as continuous with their ancestral cultures;

• the cultural and political conditions in the United States, Canada, and France have modified developmental and socialization processes, yielding discontinuities with ancestral cultures;

• the ancestral cultures have changed, yielding cross-generational discontinuities in the development and socialization of immigrants from the very same countries.

• the role of interdependenceand independencein developmental scripts can account for historical continuities and discontinuities in development and socialization, both across and within cultures.

These questions not only provide the unifying theme of this unique book but also a model for conceptualizing multi-culturalism within a unified framework for developmental psychology.


The field of developmental psychology is an ethnocentric one dominated by a Euro-American perspective. Interaction with a wider international community can provide perspectives on goals, conditions, and paths of development that differ from those we too often take for granted. Only in this way will our field be decentered and our collegial relationships internationalized. At international conferences, all too often, colonial and other hierarchical power relations are replicated at the intellectual level. Cross-cultural and racial/ethnic findings are evaluated in terms of established mainstream Euro-American evidence. Little attention is paid to how different behaviors serve their respective users. Consequently, a major goal of the international workshop for which the following chapters were written was to bring scholars from every part of the world together to work on a common theme, to which each could contribute on an inherently equal footing.

The goal of two of our sponsoring bodies, the Developmental Psychology Division of the American Psychological Association (APA) and the International Society for the Study of Behavioral Development, was to internationalize the field of developmental psychology. From the perspective of the APA, it seemed that developmental psychologists in the United States would be most interested in an international perspective, if such a perspective could solve a problem of central importance to the field and to society. Minority child development and socialization seemed to be just such an issue.

Although cultures sometimes coincide with national borders, conquest and immigration have made this state of affairs the exception rather than the rule.

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