This article by Smith et al., starts out asking the need for having a developmental perspective and answers that question by relating that the developmental perspective provides insight into the dynamic relations between biology and culture, human universals, and cultural diversity.
An important element in the development of self is how one defines himself relatively independently of others or relatively interdependent with others. Developmental processes in conjunction with child-rearing and socialization in the family are studied to comprehend how variations in self emerge in various cultural and socio-economic-familial contexts. The study of these variations as well as how differences within and among the variations emerge, help in understanding the ways to adapt to various social and cultural environs, thus facilitating a broader understanding of human behaviour. Development spans the life from the prenatal period to old age and death. Through this process the stages of infancy, childhood and adolescence are identified as critical times in an individual’s life as most growth, learning and change occur through these periods. Taking a developmental approach to understanding one’s life-span highlights the importance of culture as a relevant factor in the variation in the different phases of life. The article discusses the value of children and family change. It identifies that the mediating variable between socio-cultural environmental factors and individual outcomes is the ‘value of children’ (VOC). This value is the underlying reason for the motives for having children and constitutes the determining aspect of childhood in every cultural setting. There was significant variance in the value attributed to children across countries of different socio-economic differences as well as within the levels of socio-economic differences in individual countries. Smith et al., identify three models of family: 1) the family model of interdependence, 2) the family model...
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