Changing Societies, Changing Childhood: Studying the Impact of Globalization on Child Development


Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Ross A. Thompson, Department of Psychology, One Shields Ave., University of California, Davis, CA 95616; e-mail:


Although children are significantly affected by globalization in many ways, there has been little study of its impact on their development. Understanding the effects of the political, economic, and cultural changes associated with globalization requires diverse research strategies designed to (a) provide an impact analysis of the effects of changes associated with globalization on local social ecologies (e.g., families, schools, neighborhoods, health-care system) and on children's everyday experience; (b) examine how globalization influences the knowledge, skills, and forms of learning required of children as cultures are affected by worldwide influences; and (c) explore children's interpretations of these changes for themselves and their future. The specific research strategies suitable to these goals include large-scale social indicators analysis (which can sometimes be drawn from national or international datasets), behavioral studies, document content analyses, ethnographic methods and other approaches to assess specific social practices affecting children, carefully designed child interviews, and coordinated multimethod programs of research that examine the impact of cultural change on children from institutional, societal, and individual perspectives. This article profiles a number of key research challenges and opportunities entailed in the effort to understand how development is shaped, and reshaped, by broader cultural currents.