Child, Youth, and Family Studies, Department of


Date of this Version



Edwards, C.P., Ren, L., & Brown, J. (2015). Early contexts of learning: Family and community socialization during infancy and toddlerhood. In L. Jensen (Ed.). Oxford Handbook of Human Development and Culture: An Interdisciplinary Perspective (pp. 165-181). New York: Oxford University Press.


Copyright © 2014 Oxford University Press. Used by permission.


The contexts of early learning and socialization are diverse and complex but not without some predictability. The tension between predictability and variation fascinates researchers interested in childhood and culture and motivates careful exploration of different developmental niches to better understand socialization during infancy, toddlerhood, and early childhood. Contexts of early socialization vary in the people and activities present, and the beliefs and norms of caregivers and daily companions. The chapter utilizes anthropological constructs (household structure and composition, settlement patterns and subsistence level, mothers’ workload, gender division of labor, intimacy levels between husbands and wives, and cultural roles and norms pertaining to sibling caregiving and fostering of children) to better understand how parents, siblings, grandparents, extended kin, foster families, early childhood centers, and welfare institutions work together to raise healthy children. The authors explore how opportunities and constraints as well as expectations and demands influence children in enduring ways.