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Challenging Developmental Doctrines through Cross-Cultural Research

Challenging Developmental Doctrines through Cross-Cultural Research

Chapter:
(p.23) One Challenging Developmental Doctrines through Cross-Cultural Research
Source:
Universalism without Uniformity
Author(s):
Robert A. Levine
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226501710.003.0002

In writings aimed at the general public, claims that a behavior found in US residents is rooted in evolution and the brain are regularly used to set aside the need to replicate a study in diverse cultural settings. As animal experiments once represented the gold standard, enabling researchers to ignore cross-cultural evidence on child development, so advances in evolutionary biology and neuroscience have now taken that transcendent place. If development is largely a matter of human evolution and the brain, why should we worry about childhood environments in the non-Western world? “Challenging Developmental Doctrines” answers this question by examining the long history of the anthropology of child development and the emergence of cultural psychological investigations of the study of the child as emerging within, rather than apart from, cultural context. Critically engaging with the work of Stanley Hall, Jean Piaget, Lawrence Kohlberg, and Margaret Mead, among others, LeVine shows how John and Beatrice Whitings’ research group at Harvard and a subsequent long-term study of child development among the Hausa of Northwest Nigeria helped to show how and why culture is important in the study of developmental psychology.

Keywords:   Child Development, Hausa, Nigeria, developmental psychology, Whiting, Piaget, Kohlberg, Mead, cultural context

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