How Children Understand War and Peace: A Call for International Peace Education

By Amiram Raviv; Louis Oppenheimer et al. | Go to book overview

5
CULTURAL SOCIALIZATION
AND CONCEPTIONS OF
WAR AND PEACE

A CROSS-NATIONAL COMPARISON

Katherine Covell, University College of Cape Breton

ONE OF THE MORE INTRIGUING FINDINGS in the literature is that the impact of war on children is not uniformly negative. Diverse responses to war may in part be accounted for by the child's personal or family characteristics. However, in this chapter, I will argue that responses to war are mediated by cultural ideology which, through political socialization, affords different concepts of war. The everyday experiences children have are directly related to the prevailing ideologies, values, and attitudes of the culture in which they are reared. Children's interpretations of experiences and media information, their schooling, and the pressures upon them for sex-stereotyped behavior are affected by their sociocultural contexts. The focus of this chapter is the impact of cultural ideology on political socialization and concepts of war among U.S. and Canadian children, children who are not directly experiencing war. Using Bronfenbrenner's ecological model of development (1979) as the theoretical framework, cultural values will be compared, and the empirical literature on children's and adolescents' concepts of war will be assessed in terms of political socialization, schools, television, and gender role expectations. First, the link between socialization and social concept formation will be described briefly.

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