Child, Youth, and Family Studies, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in X. Chen, D. French, and B. Schneider (Eds.) PEER RELATIONSHIPS IN CULTURAL CONTEXT (Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press, 2006), pp. 23-51. Copyright © 2006 Cambridge University Press. Used by permission.


Cultural socialization has long interested behavioral and social scientists, but recent advances in theory and methodology have allowed researchers to construct new and more powerful theoretical frameworks for conceptualizing the complex ways in which children interact with their environments during the course of development. Studies of childhood socialization in the classic tradition of cross-cultural research were static in their approach to analyzing underlying processes because of limitations in the theories and methods available at the time they were conducted. Many studies, for example, involved straightforward associations or comparisons of levels of parental socialization pressure (the antecedent condition) with children's social or cognitive behavior (the consequent condition). In contrast, using new theoretical and methodological tools, researchers today can go beyond testing predictions about how differences in childhood environments may predict group differences in some kind of child characteristic and instead consider dynamic and transactional child-environment relations. For instance, current researchers have employed theoretical frameworks from social-cognitive development, Vygotskian psychology, and cultural psychology to characterize the children and their contexts in reframed ways and to highlight such themes as self-socialization and guided participation in cultural socialization.