Ecocultural Effects on Early Infant Care: A Study in Cameroon, India, and Germany

Authors

  • HEIDI KELLER,

    1. HEIDI KELLER is a professor of psychology and the head of the Department of Culture and Development at the University of Osnabrueck, Germany.
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  • MONIKA ABELS,

    1. MONIKA ABELS is a research assistant and doctorate candidate in the Department of Culture and Development at the University of Osnabrueck, Germany.
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  • BETTINA LAMM,

    1. BETTINA LAMM is a research assistant and doctorate candidate in the Department of Culture and Development at the University of Osnabrueck.
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  • RELINDIS D. YOVSI,

    1. RELINDIS DZEAYE YOVSI, PhD, is a research associate at the University of Osnabrueck, in the Department of Culture and Development.
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  • SUSANNE VOELKER,

    1. SUSANNE VOELKER is a PhD associated with the Department of Human Sciences, University of Osnabrueck, Germany.
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  • ARUNA LAKHANI

    1. ARUNA LAKHANI is the director of Deepak Foundation, an organization dedicated to the livelihood needs of women (including self development), women's health, infant and maternal mortality and gender issues.
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Abstract

In this study, the early social experiences of infants from two agricultural societies, Indian Rajput and Cameroonian Nso are compared to each other and to German urban middle-class families. Using spot observations, infants' social experiences were assessed when they were between 2.5 and 3 months. The parenting styles in the three communities are distinctly different from each other. However, the Nso and the Rajputs share a parenting pattern that can be regarded as supporting the development of communion. Differences between the two agrarian communities are related to different emotional expressivity and different health and nutritional status. The German caregiving pattern can be regarded as oriented towards the development of agency. In the discussion the question of the cultural interpretation of parenting behaviors is raised, emphasizing that the analysis of both shared practices as well as shared ideas is important in order to understand the dynamics of parenting in cultural context.

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