chapter  1
24 Pages

Cultural Influences on Child Development: Are We Ready for a Paradigm Shift?

There is a vast tradition of cross-cultural as well as intracultural research that examines the influence of cultural processes on child development. The work by John and Beatrice Whiting, Robert Levine, Michael Cole, Sarah Harkness, Charles Super, Barbara Rogoff, among others, contribute to our knowledge base in this area (see Cole & Bruner, 1974; Levine, 1973; Rogoff & Morelli, 1989; Super & Harkness, 1980; Triandis & Heron, 1981; Whiting & Whiting, 1975). However, this research tends to remain at the periphery of our knowledge base about developmental processes during childhood (Slaughter-Defoe, Nakagawa, Takanishi, &Johnson, 1990) . Our discipline's high regard for carefully controlled experimental studies and the use of standardized psychometrically sound assessments makes us hesitant to use qualitative or nonexperimental methodologies and prone to disregard the findings obtained with such methods (Hoshmand & Polkinghome, 1992; Kessen, 1993; Levine, 1980). This continues today despite the fact that we are beginning to realize that these alternative methodologies might be more appropriate in capturing the complexity of the interplay between cultural and developmental processes.