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For both Greenfield [] and Saxe [], ontogenesis and sociogenesis are separate but intertwined processes of human development.

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In their research, economic change was the driving force behind the cognitive and cultural changes they observed. In making a similar point, other research has pointed to schooling as a large-scale social change that is pivotal in shaping cognitive development [e. We do not dispute that economic changes and the introduction of formal school in a community can be huge forces of cultural and cognitive change.

However, we contend that sociogenesis is often very broad in scope and affects many facets of life and learning in a community, including the daily activities and social and institutional transactions in which adults and children engage.

In an effort to describe this process, we focus on changes to human activity and cognitive development as communities incorporate the technology, practices, and institutions common in industrial and postindustrial societies. Although such changes typically involve greater engagement in a cash economy and formal schooling, they also include other changes such as switching from candle power to electricity which means people can now do more things or different types of things in a day , the establishment of institutions in addition to schools such as post offices and social gathering places that offer different ways of interacting and with garnering resources [employment] , different forms of transportation which may make distances from the workplace or from kin less of a problem , changes in daily activities devoted to subsistence such as methods of heating and of cooking food which may involve shifting from a more hazardous method, e.

We are not only interested in the presence of these elements in a household, but also in their presence in the community at large. In our view, every household does not need to have certain elements for a community to be transformed by a new practice.


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We are also interested in the processes or mechanisms that account for changes in culture and cognitive development during sociogenesis. In any situation, there are likely several mechanisms at play, and they may be interrelated; for example, formal schooling and a cash economy tend to co-occur. Some mechanisms are more aligned with societal features, such as economic and schooling changes, and some may be social psychological in nature, such as how knowledge is organized and distributed in a community.

In our discussion, we offer some ideas regarding mechanisms that may underlie the cultural and cognitive changes in the data we use for illustration of our points.

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In their efforts to get across intended meanings, people unintentionally drew on prior representational forms, using them in new ways. Because classic modernization theory presumed social progress, it also assumed that the adoption of modern elements would lead to improvements in cognitive performance. There is also a contentious debate as to whether the adoption of features common in industrial societies is beneficial. Although some such changes may be beneficial, for example, improved health care, others may be regressive or destabilizing, such as increased trade that exposes the population to economic disparity or new diseases.

Our take regarding the incorporation of elements of industrial societies in traditional small-scale communities is pragmatic and stems from the recognition that the process that is sometimes referred to as modernization includes a set, oftentimes a pattern, of change that is a continuing societal force likely to relate in significant ways to psychological development. Thus, in our view, research is needed that recognizes the complexity of such change while at the same time avoiding untested assumptions of earlier eras.

In our research, we examined a particular sort of societal change and cognitive development without presuming positive relations or outcomes. The broader issue of globalization is of direct relevance to our inquiry in that one of the principal features of globalization is exposure to and integration of technological and other forms of change typically encountered in industrialized settings. Cultures change continuously and there are many sources of change.

Here we concentrate on one particular pattern of change that is evident to varying degrees in the increasing global landscape, specifically the adoption of the technology, institutions, and social practices that are common in industrialized communities. We assert that these cultural changes are inseparable from cognitive processes and their development. Thus, like Nucci et al.


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  8. Although these data are archival, we consider this an advantage for our purposes. It so happens that the processes we want to study may benefit through being viewed from a historical distance. It is also the case that the sweep of changes in which we are interested is increasingly difficult to study because a large number of people and communities around the world today have already adopted many of these accoutrements.

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    Even people living in geographically isolated communities are adopting the tools and artifacts of industrialized societies, such as cell phones. These data are cross-sectional and not longitudinal. Thus, we are using patterns across cultures at the same point in time as a way of examining cultural and cognitive change. A longitudinal analysis is, of course, preferable. But given that the processes of change we are trying to describe typically occur over a lengthy period of time, emerge in piecemeal fashion, and occur somewhat organically — that is, they emerge from the community — they can be difficult to study.

    As a result, we opt for a substitute method, using archival data in a cross-sectional analysis, in the hopes of describing an intersection of onto- and sociogenesis. In the present article, we discuss what we believe to be some of the implications of our findings and, by extension, the possible implications for understanding the relation between ontogenesis and sociogenesis. We are particularly interested in the incorporation by small-scale traditional communities of various features of industrialized societies.

    Such incorporation can affect, on a daily basis, the work people do, the way children are cared for and educated, and the nature and strength of the links between the community and the world beyond the community.

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    As a society adopts more of these resources and practices, children are exposed to changing modes of acting and interacting both inside and outside the home and, as a result, these community changes have direct relevance to processes of human development, including cognitive growth. The sample was comprised of a total of 3-, 5-, 7-, and 9-year-olds spread evenly among four cultural communities that differed in their incorporation of elements from industrial societies at the time the data were collected.

    We measured the possession of communicative and literacy-based appurtenances and other resources that are typical in industrial societies, including writing tablets and books, the availability of electricity, a home-based water supply, radio and television sets, and ownership of a motor vehicle. The four communities, representing Garifuna in Belize, Logoli in Kenya, Newars in Nepal, and Samoans in American Samoa, differed geographically and linguistically and, at the time of data collection — , had no contact with each other.

    The children were administered seven standard cognitive measures under conditions controlled by the same researcher the late Ruth H. Munroe , who trained and supervised local experimenters. The findings replicated typical age-related improvements in cognitive performance, and these findings were evident on the five tasks that were similar to those conducted in Western settings and also on the two tasks that were adapted to the specific cultural setting. Community adoption of elements from industrial societies, scored both individually e.

    In general, the communities that had adopted more of these elements, American Samoans and Garifuna, outperformed the Newar and Logoli children, and the rank correlation between community adoption and overall cognitive performance was perfect. Schooling was associated with good test performance, but societal adoption of these elements was about equally strong as a predictor. Furthermore, the superior cognitive performance of Samoan and Garifuna children showed up among even unschooled 3-year-olds.

    Open-fire cooking exposes children to harmful substances such as carbon monoxide CO , which, in turn, makes children susceptible to respiratory ailments, weakens their immune system, and can lead to pneumonia, the leading cause of death among young children worldwide [McCracken et al. Young children may also be at higher risk relative to older children because they spend more time in and around the home area where the open fires burn [Munroe et al.


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    4. To address this topic, we studied the relation between exposure to open-fire cooking and the cognitive performance of 3- to 9-year-old children in the four-culture data. Parents were the informants regarding modes of cooking.

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      In two of the communities Logoli in Kenya; Newars in Nepal , open-fire cooking with wood, dung, or straw in indoor spaces was used at all times. In the Samoan community, cooking was done on kerosene stoves, a practice that is less hazardous to child health and, relevant to the present discussion, highly associated with community adoption of other elements found in industrialized societies.

      In one community, there was intracultural variation: Garifuna families employed different modes of cooking — both open-fire with wood and kerosene — and at different levels of frequency. We found moderate to strong negative relations [Cohen, ] between open-fire cooking and cognitive performance, with child age controlled. When we examined these relations intraculturally with the Garifuna families and controlled as well for socioeconomic status , the patterns generally accorded with those found for the full sample, though they were somewhat less robust.

      Although these correlational outcomes cannot point directly to any causal mechanisms, our findings are consistent with ideas about open-fire cooking and its negative developmental consequences, especially in the early years [Smith et al. As noted above, the unschooled 3-year-olds in Samoa and Belize, the two communities with greater presence of amenities common to industrialized societies, outperformed the Nepalese and Kenyan children of the same age.

      It appears that even before children entered school they were reaping some of the seemingly cognitive benefits of differential societal adoption of these elements. The magnitude of absolute score differences between these two pairs of societies tended to decline for older children, though this was probably due to ceiling effects on the tests as the Nepalese and Kenyan sample children of 7 and 9 years of age gradually approached the top level performances of the Samoan and Belizean older children.

      If we assume that neonates in all cultural groups have equal potential, then a central research issue is how such cognitive performance differences are inculcated so early. In a later section of this article, we shall point to other data from our study that augment these findings. The second factor is that in these societies children can see for themselves their meaningful part in relatively stable socioeconomic fabrics and therefore seldom need to ask for explanations. This depiction seems to fit the pattern of explanatory type questioning found in young children in industrialized and postindustrial societies.

      Its source, as LeVine [] implied, is likely to be found in parental behavior. Taken together, our results are consistent with the idea that societal changes that involve the adoption of institutions and amenities common in industrialized societies contribute to certain types of cognitive skills, the same types of skills implicated in the Flynn effect, the documented worldwide increase in IQ since the s [Flynn, , ].

      What our results showed is that these changes were not only temporal, that is, measurable over time — as Flynn demonstrated — they were also evident at the same point in time when cultures were compared on dimensions regarding these types of cultural changes. Of course, it is not these changes per se that would explain the differences. Rather, adjustments in cognitive activity associated with societal changes register in a range of human activities, including the everyday transactions that mature cultural members have with one another and in formal and informal socialization efforts directed toward children.

      Given our findings across these studies, we concluded that in terms of cognitive development, not all small-scale traditional societies were the same, and the adoption of institutions and other elements common in industrialized and postindustrial societies seemed to have something to do with it. Cultures, as a result of globalization, change, for reasons that have to do with the innate systemic risks that globalization runs through them, risks which are supra-human, but which, for that very reason, have to be identified, deconstructed, and eliminated, although we do know that this process cannot be the work of one sole generation.

      If, as Habermas thinks they are, utopian values are used-up, because they are targeted, then, they must be invigorated. Intellectual clarity can help. And meditation upon what is and what is not scientific can be an asset. It is true odium has been cast on the precautionary principle by some scholars of environmental studies.

      In a fairly recent issue of the M. Press quarterly Global Environmental Politics, scholars Emery Roe and Michel Van Eeten have condemned the precautionary principle in matters of environmental policy on the grounds that scientific evidence is not sufficient, calling for empirical knowledge, supposed to be an index to what is and what is not scientific 8. Is it that globalization has reshaped the image of science in academia, making us wistful once again, and inviting us to find peace of mind in a belated version of science which is reminiscent of the nineteenth century, when science was largely considered to rely on empirical observation, whatever this might mean?

      Empiricism and dogmatic thinking are birds of a feather flocking together. More open intellectual attitudes are necessary to face the risks of globalization upon our environment. Doubt, in particular, may be protective, in this respect. Without it, scientific thinking can be stultified. Science cannot be independent of general interest and social respect, and requires critical detachment to shelter us from the systemic dangers inherent in its objects of inquiry and the applicability of its fundamental findings. In scientific knowledge as well, the culture wars loom large, though they tend to be overlooked.

      These wars may lead both ways: to cultural changes that will crush social hope, and to cultural changes that will uplift a sense of community and cooperation.