Socialization for competence: Cultural models of infancy

Bibliographic Collection: 
MOCA Reference, APE
Publication Type: Journal Article
Authors: Keller, Heidi
Year of Publication: 2003
Journal: Human Development
Volume: 46
Pagination: 288–311
Publication Language: eng

This paper conceptualizes cultural models about the developmental period of infancy. The models are derived from existing literature and our own re- search. We are especially focusing on observational studies assessing infantsí parenting experiences (breastfeeding, body contact, body stimulation, object stimulation, face to face contact and attention to positive and negative stimuli) in rural, agrarian Cameroonian Nso and urban German middle-class families. We also report results from video-based ethnographic interviews about parental ethnotheories in these two cultural communities. We propose an apprentice model that is typical for rural agrarian cultural contexts, committed to interde- pendent socialization goals like harmonious family relationships and obligation to the family system. Stimulation and training, especially of physical growth and motor development are considered as adequate parenting. We propose an equality model of infancy, that is typical for urban middle-class cultural contexts and informed by independent development goals, like an autonomous agency and uniqueness. Communicative exchange between (quasi) equal partners espe- cially in the face-to-face context and object play are considered as the adequate developmental arena. Both models embody different conceptions of compe- tence. They nevertheless coexist to varying degrees in different sociocultural and historical environments.