Culture, Development, and Diversity: Expectable Pluralism, Conflict, and Similarity



Abstract Cultural values and scripts for parenting can be inconsistent, producing intrapsychic and cultural conflict. For example, many middle-class U.S. parents encourage independence, self-reliance, and autonomy in children, yet also encourage children to seek out help and look for attention from adults. Parents respond with egoistic recognition of children's achievements—a set of contradictions that lead to dependency conflicts. Another example of conflicting goals and fears for many U.S. parents is bedsharing with children. Parents hold strong beliefs about the importance of bedsharing and its positive or negative outcomes; their beliefs are important to their identity and beliefs about good outcomes for their children, even where actual impacts of bedsharing on children show no strong differences. At the same time, if enough features of the cultural learning environment are similar, outcomes of childrearing practices will be reasonably similar and consistent within a community. These examples suggest that conflict, diversity, and pluralism are expectable within and across communities, but also that shared cultural learning environments will simultaneously encourage similarity. In this article, I present empirical examples of these processes, some of which organize diversity to produce consensus, whereas others produce intrapsychic, intersubjective, and cross-cultural conflict. [cultural pluralism, conflict, cultural learning environment, dependency conflict, bedsharing]