Date of this Version
Human Development 45 (2002), pp. 307–311.
In studying human development in cultural-historical context, we must integrate multiple levels of analysis and strive to identify culture’s imprint inside the contexts of socialization. Issues of methodology are complex. This paper argues that both comparative and historical-interpretive studies are valuable and indeed generative for each other, using as an example an international, collaborative research project focused on East African women and changing childrearing values. The site was Ngecha, a Gikuyu-speaking community in the Central Province of Kenya, during a period of rapid social change from an agrarian to a wage earning economy shortly after national independence (1968-1973). The experiences of Ngecha women highlighted their significant role as agents of social change in the village and stimulated the team to transform an ahistorical comparative investigation into a multifaceted case study with a strong historical component. The article reveals thinking behind the book, Ngecha: A Kenyan Village in a Time of Rapid Social Change, edited by Carolyn Pope Edwards and Beatrice B. Whiting. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press: 2004.