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Cultural Pathways Through Universal Development

This article examines the independent self vs. interdependent self theories of development. It also presents three theoretical approaches to culture and development: ecocultural; sociohistorical; and, cultural values.

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Main Ideas: * Culture is a socially interactive process of construction, comprising two main components: shared activity (cultural practices) and shared meaning (cultural interpretation). The Cultural Values Approach – Culturally relevant developmental goals are represented in the form of implicit ethnotheories of development, i. e. , a system of beliefs and ideas concerning the nature of the ideal child and the socialization practices necessary to achieve this ideal. * The Ecocultural Approach, sees the child’s behavioral development and the acquisition of culture as resulting from the interaction between human biological potentialities and environmental conditions.

In short, the ecocultural approach emphasizes development as an adaptation to different environmental conditions and constraints. * The Sociohistoric Approach emphasizes processes of social construction, particularly cultural apprenticeship, cultural activities or practices, the use of cultural artifacts, including tools, and the historical dimension of these processes. The primary focus of this approach has been on explaining the child’s cognitive development. Criticisms: * One common criticism of these cultural paradigms is that the approach is too simplistic and reductionistic; the dichotomous binary quality of individualism and collectivism is seen as problematical. * Another criticism of the framework involves the notion that independent and interdependent concerns coexist in the same culture * The core theoretical approach to relationship formation is attachment theory.

Attachment theory stresses the evolutionary basis of attachment relationships as a phylogenetically evolved adaptive system with a core of standard assumptions that are supposed to constitute universals of ontogenetic development. Basically, it assumes that maternal sensitivity, defined as the prompt, adequate and consistent reaction towards infants’ cues, is causally linked to attachment security and that this constitutes the normative and healthy developmental pattern across cultures.