Studying Diverse Child Developmental Pathways Around the World

Chair: Thomas S. Weisner, Professor of Anthropology, Departments of Psychiatry and Anthropology, University of California, Los Angeles

Integrative Statement. There are remarkably diverse developmental pathways for children around the world. Understanding them often requires interdisciplinary research, collaboration with parents and children in those communities, and integrating qualitative, quantitative and biological methods. Such research can radically challenge what our field imagines as the normative range of variation for childrens development. If our studies only come from Western developed societies, laboratory contexts, or from single disciplines and methods, we easily can miss the many successful life-ways for achieving child and family wellbeing around the world. Cultural and multidisciplinary research is also essential to discover and confirm universal processes and common mechanisms in child development and families, amidst the worlds diverse developmental contexts. For good analytic and practical reasons, bracketing out context, using single methods, using a local or mono-cultural sample, and assuming linear relationships of course are valuable and/or necessary approaches in developmental science. But the world of children and families is not linear and additive, and bracketing in diverse cultural and naturalistic context leads to findings that matter for childrens development which could not be discovered otherwise. The speakers in this invited symposium exemplify these long-standing empirical and theoretical traditions in the study of human development. Their research includes biocultural studies of health, stress, and human development; cultural comparative work on infancy, and on the connections between fertility decline, literacy, and maternal behavior; research on the shared role of individual and cultural processes in childrens collaboration and learning; and comparative studies of mothering and early childhood development.

Presentation 1 – Margaret Mead and Developmental Psychology: Critical Reflections

Robert A. LeVine, Graduate School of Education, Harvard University

Presentation 2 – Learning about the Roles of Individual and Community in Human Development through Interdisciplinary Research
Barbara Rogoff, University of California, Santa Cruz

Presentation 3 – Styles of Mothering in the Children of Different Worlds Study: An Early Childhood Researcher Revisits Issues of Parental Engagement
Carolyn Edwards, University of Nebraska, Lincoln

Presentation 4 – Human Development as a Biocultural Project: Insights from Comparative Research
Carol Worthman, Emory University

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