chapter  8
21 Pages

Culture anddevelopment

Childhood across cultures
WithAndrew Stevenson

The relationship between culture and childhood can be viewed up close, or from a distance. At close quarters it is commonly portrayed as involving the transmission of values and beliefs between caregivers and children, via socialisation and enculturation. Socialisation is not a one-way street down which elders’ beliefs pass to a younger generation. Cultural mediation theory casts culture in the role of a filter through which other biological and environmental forces are mediated. The mediating role of culture in the development of humans urges one to understand childhood, adolescence and adulthood as phenomena that should be viewed in their unique cultural and historical contexts. Micro and macro approaches to human development come together in Bronfenbrenner’s ecological, layered model, wherein socialisation and its relationship with culture are portrayed in the form of a series of ever-increasing, concentric circles. The diverse gender roles apparent in the communities emphasised the importance of cultural factors on their formation.