Role Of The Theory In Research And Philosophical Orientations For this Discussion, you will consider the role of theory in research and the relationship between theory and philosophical orientations. You will also familiarize yourself with a theory in your field so that you may become more conversant in your disciplines theoretical foundations.With these thoughts in mind:By Day 3Post an explanation of the role of theory in research. Next, identify a theory in your discipline and explain its basic tenets. Then, with this theory in mind, consider your answer to the following question posed by Dr. Burkholder in last weeks reading: What do I have to believe about the world and about human beings in order for me to accept or use this theory? Finally, describe the extent to which the epistemological and ontological assumptions of your chosen theory align with the philosophical orientation that reflects your worldview. The Cultural Nature of
OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS
The Cultural Nature
of Human Development
? ? ? Cultural ? ?? ?? ?
? ? Human Development
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Copyright © 2003 by Barbara Rogoff
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198 Madison Avenue, New York, New York 10016
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
The cultural nature of human development / Barbara Rogoff.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
1. Socialization. 2. Child development. 3. Cognition and culture.
4. Developmental psychology. I. Title.
HM686 .R64 2003
9 8 7 6 5
4 3 2 1
Printed in the United States of America
on acid-free paper
For Salem, Luisa, Valerie, and David
with appreciation for their companionship
and support all along the way.
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I deeply appreciate the wisdom, support, and challenges of Beatrice Whiting , Lois and Ben Paul, Mike Cole, Sylvia Scribner, Shep White, Jerry
Kagan, Roy Malpass, Marta Navichoc Cotuc, Encarnación Perez, Pablo
Cox Bixcul, and the children and parents of San Pedro, who opened my
eyes to patterns of culture and how to think about them.
I am grateful to the insightful discussions and questions of Cathy Angelillo, Krystal Bellinger, Rosy Chang, Pablo Chavajay, Erica Coy, Julie Holloway, Afsaneh Kalantari, Ed Lopez, Eugene Matusov, Rebeca Mejía Arauz,
Behnosh Naja?, Emily Parodi, Ari Taub, Araceli Valle, and my graduate and
undergraduate students who helped me develop these ideas. I especially
appreciate the suggestions of Debi Bolter, Maricela Correa-Chávez, Sally
Duensing, Shari Ellis, Ray Gibbs, Giyoo Hatano, Carol Lee, Elizabeth Magarian, Ruth Paradise, Keiko Takahashi, Catherine Cooper, Marty Chemers,
and Wendy Williams and the valuable assistance of Karrie André and
Cindy White. The editorial advice of Jonathan Cobb, Elizabeth Knoll, Joan
Bossert, and several anonymous reviewers greatly improved the book. I
greatly appreciate the donors and UCSC colleagues who created the UCSC
Foundation chair in psychology that supports my work.
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? Orienting Concepts and Ways of Understanding
the Cultural Nature of Human Development ?
Looking for Cultural Regularities ?
One Set of Patterns: Childrens Age-Grading and Segregation
from Community Endeavors or Participation
in Mature Activities ?
Other Patterns ?
Orienting Concepts for Understanding Cultural Processes ??
Moving Beyond Initial Assumptions ??
Beyond Ethnocentrism and De?cit Models ??
Separating Value Judgments from Explanations ??
Diverse Goals of Development ??
Ideas of Linear Cultural Evolution ??
Moving Beyond Assumptions of a Single Goal of Human
Learning through Insider/Outsider Communication ??
Outsiders Position ??
Insiders Position ??
Moving between Local and Global Understandings ??
Revising Understanding in Derived Etic Approaches ??
The Meaning of the Same Situation across Communities ??
? Development as Transformation of Participation
in Cultural Activities ??
A Logical Puzzle for Researchers ??
An Example: We always speak only of what we see ??
Researchers Questioning Assumptions ??
Concepts Relating Cultural and Individual Development ??
Whiting and Whitings Psycho-Cultural Model ??
Bronfenbrenners Ecological System ??
Issues in Diagramming the Relation of Individual
and Cultural Processes ??
Sociocultural-Historical Theory ??
Development as Transformation of Participation
in Sociocultural Activity ??
? Individuals, Generations, and Dynamic Cultural Communities ??
Humans Are Biologically Cultural ??
Prepared Learning by Infants and Young Children
Where Do Gender Differences Come From? ??
Participation in Dynamic Cultural Communities ??
Culture as a Categorical Property of Individuals versus
a Process of Participation in Dynamically Related
Cultural Communities ??
The Case of Middle-Class European American
Cultural Communities ??
Conceiving of Communities across Generations ??
? Child Rearing in Families and Communities ???
Family Composition and Governments ???
Cultural Strategies for Child Survival and Care ???
Infant-Caregiver Attachment ???
Maternal Attachment under Severe Conditions ???
Infants Security of Attachment ???
Attachment to Whom? ???
Family and Community Role Specializations ???
Extended Families ???
Differentiation of Caregiving, Companion, and Socializing Roles ???
Sibling Caregiving and Peer Relations ???
The Community as Caregiver ???
Childrens Participation in or Segregation from Mature
Community Activities ???
Access to Mature Community Activities ???
Pitching in from Early Childhood ???
Excluding Children and Youth from Labor
and from Productive Roles ???
Adults Preparing Children or Children Joining Adults ???
Engaging in Groups or Dyads ???
Infant Orientation: Face-to-Face with Caregiver versus Oriented
to the Group ???
Dyadic versus Group Prototypes for Social Relations ???
Dyadic versus Multiparty Group Relations in Schooling ???
? Developmental Transitions in Individuals Roles
in Their Communities ???
Age as a Cultural Metric for Development ???
Developmental Transitions Marking Change in Relation to
the Community ???
Rates of Passing Developmental Milestones ???
Age Timing of Learning ???
Mental Testing ???
Development as a Racetrack ???
According Infants a Unique Social Status ???
Contrasting Treatment of Toddlers and Older Siblings ???
Continuities and Discontinuities across Early Childhood ???
Responsible Roles in Childhood ???
Onset of Responsibility at Age 5 to 7? ???
Maturation and Experience ???
Adolescence as a Special Stage ???
Initiation to Manhood and Womanhood ???
Marriage and Parenthood as Markers of Adulthood ???
Midlife in Relation to Maturation of the Next Generation ???
Gender Roles ???
The Centrality of Child Rearing and Household Work in Gender
Role Specializations ???
Sociohistorical Changes over Millennia in Mothers and Fathers
Sociohistorical Changes in Recent Centuries in U.S. Mothers and
Fathers Roles ???
Occupational Roles and Power of Men and Women ???
Gender and Social Relations ???
? Interdependence and Autonomy ???
Sleeping Independently ???
Comfort from Bedtime Routines and Objects ???
Social Relations in Cosleeping ???
Independence versus Interdependence with Autonomy ???
Individual Freedom of Choice in an Interdependent System ???
Learning to Cooperate, with Freedom of Choice ???
Adult-Child Cooperation and Control ???
Parental Discipline ???
Teachers Discipline ???
Teasing and Shaming as Indirect Forms of Social Control ???
Conceptions of Moral Relations ???
Moral Reasoning ???
Morality as Individual Rights or Harmonious Social Order ???
Learning the Local Moral Order ???
Mandatory and Discretionary Concepts in Moral Codes ???
Cooperation and Competition ???
Cooperative versus Competitive Behavior in Games ???
Schooling and Competition ???
? Thinking with the Tools and Institutions of Culture ???
Speci?c Contexts Rather Than General Ability: Piaget around the
Schooling Practices in Cognitive Tests: Classi?cation and Memory ???
Cultural Values of Intelligence and Maturity ???
Familiarity with the Interpersonal Relations used in Tests ???
Varying De?nitions of Intelligence and Maturity ???
Generalizing Experience from One Situation to Another ???
Learning to Fit Approaches Flexibly to Circumstances ???
Cultural Tools for Thinking ???
Other Conceptual Systems ???
Distributed Cognition in the Use of Cultural Tools
for Thinking ???
Cognition beyond the Skull ???
Collaboration in Thinking across Time and Space ???
Collaboration Hidden in the Design of Cognitive Tools and
An Example: Sociocultural Development in Writing Technologies and
Crediting the Cultural Tools and Practices We Think With ???
8 Learning through Guided Participation in Cultural Endeavors ???
Basic Processes of Guided Participation ???
Mutual Bridging of Meanings ???
Mutual Structuring of Participation ???
Distinctive Forms of Guided Participation ???
Academic Lessons in the Family ???
Talk or Taciturnity, Gesture, and Gaze ???
Intent Participation in Community Activities ???
9 Cultural Change and Relations among Communities ???
Living the Traditions of Multiple Communities ???
Con?ict among Cultural Groups ???
Transformations through Cultural Contact across Human History ???
An Individuals Experience of Uprooting Culture Contact ???
Community Changes through Recent Cultural Contacts ???
Western Schooling as a Locus of Culture Change ???
Schooling as a Foreign Mission ???
Schooling as a Colonial Tool ???
Schooling as a Tool of U.S. Western Expansion ???
The Persistence of Traditional Ways in Changing Cultural
Contrasting Ideas of Life Success ???
Intervention in Cultural Organization of Community Life ???
Dynamic Cultural Processes: Building on More Than One Way ???
Learning New Ways and Keeping Cultural Traditions in Communities
Where Schooling Has Not Been Prevalent ???
Immigrant Families Borrowing New Practices to Build on Cultural
Learning New Ways and Keeping Cultural Traditions in Communities
Where Schooling Has Been Central ???
Cultural Variety as an Opportunity for Learningfor Individuals and
The Creative Process of Learning from Cultural Variation ???
A Few Regularities ???
Concluding with a Return to the Orienting Concepts ???
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The Cultural Nature
of Human Development
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and Ways of Understanding
the Cultural Nature of Human Development
Human development is a cultural process. As a biological species, humans
are de?ned in terms of our cultural participation. We are prepared by both
our cultural and biological heritage to use language and other cultural tools
and to learn from each other. Using such means as language and literacy, we
can collectively remember events that we have not personally experienced
becoming involved vicariously in other peoples experience over many
Being human involves constraints and possibilities stemming from long
histories of human practices. At the same time, each generation continues
to revise and adapt its human cultural and biological heritage in the face of
My aim in this book is to contribute to the understanding of cultural
patterns of human development by examining the regularities that make
sense of differences and similarities in communities practices and traditions. In referring to cultural processes, I want to draw attention to the con?gurations of routine ways of doing things in any communitys approach to
living. I focus on peoples participation in their communities cultural practices and traditions, rather than equating culture with the nationality or
ethnicity of individuals.
For understanding cultural aspects of human development, a primary
goal of this book is to develop the stance that people develop as participants
in cultural communities. Their development can be understood only in light of
T H E C U LT U R A L N AT U R E O F H U M A N D E V E L O P M E N T
the cultural practices and circumstances of their communitieswhich also
To date, the study of human development has been based largely on research and theory coming from middle-class communities in Europe and
North America. Such research and theory often have been assumed to generalize to all people. Indeed, many researchers make conclusions from work
done in a single group in overly general terms, claiming that the child does
such-and-so rather than these children did such-and-so.
For example, a great deal of research has attempted to determine at
what age one should expect the child to be capable of certain skills. For
the most part, the claims have been generic regarding the age at which children enter a stage or should be capable of a certain skill.
A cultural approach notes that different cultural communities may expect children to engage in activities at vastly different times in childhood, and
may regard timetables of development in other communities as surprising
or even dangerous. Consider these questions of when children can begin to
do certain things, and reports of cultural variations in when they do:
When does childrens intellectual development permit them
to be responsible for others? When can they be trusted to take
care of an infant?
In middle-class U.S. families, children are often not regarded as capable of
caring for themselves or tending another child until perhaps age 10 (or later
in some regions). In the U.K., it is an offense to leave a child under age 14
years without adult supervision (Subbotsky, 1995). However, in many other
communities around the world, children begin to take on responsibility for
tending other children at ages 57 (Rogoff et al., 1975; see ?gure 1.1), and in
some places even younger children begin to assume this responsibility. For
example, among the Kwaraae of Oceania,
Three year olds are skilled workers in the gardens and household,
excellent caregivers of their younger siblings, and accomplished at
social interaction. Although young children also have time to play,
many of the functions of play seem to be met by work. For both
adults and children, work is accompanied by singing, joking, verbal
play and entertaining conversation. Instead of playing with dolls,
children care for real babies. In addition to working in the family gardens, young children have their own garden plots. The latter may
seem like play, but by three or four years of age many children are
taking produce they have grown themselves to the market to sell,
thereby making a signi?cant and valued contribution to the family
income. (Watson-Gegeo, 1990, p. 87)
This 6-year-old Mayan
(Guatemalan) girl is a
skilled caregiver for her
When do childrens judgment and coordination allow them
to handle sharp knives safely?
Although U.S. middle-class adults often do not trust children below about
age 5 with knives, among the Efe of the Democratic Republic of Congo, infants routinely use machetes safely (Wilkie, personal communication, 1989;
see ?gure 1.2). Likewise, Fore (New Guinea) infants handle knives and ?re
safely by the time they are able to walk (Sorenson, 1979). Aka parents of
Central Africa teach 8- to 10-month-old infants how to throw small spears
and use small pointed digging sticks and miniature axes with sharp metal
Training for autonomy begins in infancy. Infants are allowed to crawl
or walk to whatever they want in camp and allowed to use knives,
machetes, digging sticks, and clay pots around camp. Only if an
infant begins to crawl into a ?re or hits another child do parents or
others interfere with the infants activity. It was not unusual, for instance, to see an eight month old with a six-inch knife chopping the
branch frame of its familys house. By three or four years of age children can cook themselves a meal on the ?re, and by ten years of age
Aka children know enough subsistence skills to live in the forest
alone if need be. (Hewlett, 1991, p. 34)
An Efe baby of 11 months
skillfully cuts a fruit with
a machete, under the
watchful eye of a relative
(in the Ituri Forest of the
Democratic Republic of
So, at what age do children develop responsibility for others or suf?cient skill and judgment to handle dangerous implements? Ah! Of course,
it depends, readers may say, after making some guesses based on their own
Indeed. It depends.
Variations in expectations for children make sense once we take into
account different circumstances and traditions. They make sense in the
context of differences in what is involved in preparing a meal or tending
a baby, what sources of support and danger are common, who else is nearby,
what the roles of local adults are and how they live, what institutions people use to organize their lives, and what goals the community has for development to mature functioning in those institutions and cultural practices.
Whether the activity is an everyday chore or participation in a test or
a laboratory experiment, peoples performance depends in large part on the
circumstances that are routine in their community and on the cultural practices they are used to. What they do depends in important ways on the cultural meaning given to the events and the social and institutional supports
provided in their communities for learning and carrying out speci?c roles
in the activities.
Cultural research has aided scholars in examining theories based on observations in European and European American communities for their applicability in other circumstances. Some of this work has provided crucial
counterexamples demonstrating limitations or challenging basic assumptions of a theory that was assumed to apply to all people everywhere. Examples are Bronislaw Malinowskis (1927) research questioning the Oedipal
complex in Sigmund Freuds theory and cross-cultural tests of cognitive development that led Jean Piaget to drop his claim that adolescents universally
reach a formal operational stage of being able to systematically test hypotheses (1972; see Dasen & Heron, 1981).
The importance of understanding cultural processes has become clear
in recent years. This has been spurred by demographic changes throughout
North America and Europe, which bring everyone more in contact with
cultural traditions differing from their own. Scholars now recognize that
understanding cultural aspects of human development is important for resolving pressing practical problems as well as for progress in understanding
the nature of human development in worldwide terms. Cultural research
is necessary to move beyond overgeneralizations that assume that human
development everywhere functions in the same ways as in researchers own
communities, and to be able to account for both similarities and differences
Understanding regularities in the cultural nature of human …
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