Enculturation: Sociology and Child

Topics: Sociology, Childhood, Culture Pages: 4 (1497 words) Published: September 30, 2013

MID-TERM ESSAY, QUESTION #1
What is enculturation? Conrad Kottak’s 9th edition of Cultural Anthropology defines enculturation as “the social process by which culture is learned and transmitted across the generations.” Enculturation can be accomplished through both formal and informal education. Early on, children begin to learn their culture through observation, mimicking, and through the use of symbols. Formal education in one’s culture often takes place in school, or in adult-organized play situations, often with others from the child’s peer group. Culture learned at home has a more informal tone, where family and/or siblings often surround the child, and play is less regulated. In Kottak’s article on “Culture” (24), it is stated “people live in particular cultures, where they are enculturated along different lines.” Thus, it is no surprise that there are many variances as to how people from differing cultures raise their children.

To illustrate some of the different ways children are enculturated, this paragraph refers to those cultures studied in Chapter 14 of Spindler. First, are the children of Palau, whose people do not favor emotional attachments, and do their best as adults not to encourage them. Younger children will be carried if they cry to be picked up, with the mother giving in to the youngster’s pleas. Spindler gives the example of 5-year-old Azu, who cries and throws a tantrum while trying to get his mother to carry him back to the village from the washing pool. Azu’s mother ignores his pleas, and continues to make her way home from the washing pool. This refusal to carry Azu falls in line with similar refusals of mothers to hold, feed, and cuddle with their children. Azu’s mother abruptly changed her behavior towards him when she refused to carry him, showing him that it is time for him to grow up. “Growing up in Palau means in part to stop depending on people, even your very own loving mother” (Spindler 278-279). This...
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