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It's all right to be a child : culture and psychosocial competence in two distinct marginalized communities

Guest, Andrew M ; Schweder, Richard A. (Dir.)

Thèse de doctorat : IOC Library, 2004.

This dissertation is about processes of psychosocial competence and middle childhood (between six and twelve years of age) in two distinct cultural communities that share relative poverty : a Chicago public housing community identified as "Concrete Park", and a community of four refugee camps in the Republic of Angola identified as "Pena". The research involved participant-observation to... Plus

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    Summary
    This dissertation is about processes of psychosocial competence and middle childhood (between six and twelve years of age) in two distinct cultural communities that share relative poverty : a Chicago public housing community identified as "Concrete Park", and a community of four refugee camps in the Republic of Angola identified as "Pena". The research involved participant-observation to investigate the nature of self-esteem and teamwork as psychosocial concepts commonly promoted and associated with play activities. Qualitative and quantitative data collected in Concrete Park and Pena suggests that self-esteem and teamwork, associated with a folk model of childhood mental health, depend upon particularly cultural mentalities. Play, games, and sports activities both demonstrate and socialize these mentalities. Thus, while self-evaluation in Concrete Park involves competitive social comparison oriented by a priority on high individualized self-esteem, self-evaluation in Pena involves taking advantage of opportunities to behave appropriately within a hierarchical social world. Likewise, while teamwork in Concrete Park involves an emphasis on loyalty, teamwork in Pena involves an emphasis on social order. One possibility raised by this work is that cultural processes of psychosocial competence vary according to a set of particular concerns relevant in any community such as: the salience of individualized self-esteem and self-development; conceptions of an ideal self (particularly in relation to one's understanding of his/her place in the life-course); norms of social comparison; norms of functional cooperation; and conceptions of one’s social identity. Specific processes related to these concerns differ between cultural communities and motivate individual patterns of thought and behavior towards distinct, cultural derived versions of psychosocial competence. Ultimately, this research supports conceptualizing children in impoverished communities as neither dysfunctional nor resilient; instead they should be recognized as profoundly social beings deeply embedded in distinct cultural communities.