Tracing culture in children’s thinking: a socioecological framework in understanding nature (Rastreando la cultura en el pensamiento infantil: una socioecología para comprender la naturaleza)

Andrea S. Taverna*, Douglas L. Medin, Sandra R. Waxman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

There is considerable agreement that cognitive development is shaped by culture. Less clear, however, is the mechanism by which culture exerts its influence as cognition unfolds. Prior work has primarily focused on culture as a species-specific medium of cognitive development or as an explicative factor of cognitive capacities. Here we describe a more recent alternative, the culture-as-ecosystem approach. In this view, concepts are embedded within epistemological orientations providing pervasive, widely distributed framework theories that organize people’s knowledge, learning and behaviour. To illustrate the promise of this approach, we review new evidence about how the Wichi, an indigenous population from the Chaco region in North Argentina, reason about hunhat lheley (inhabitants of the earth). By adopting the culture-as-ecosystem approach, we identified a distinct socioecological framework, undocumented elsewhere. This framework, evidenced in young children and adults, is well aligned with Wichi epistemology. We hope that highlighting the theoretical promise and empirical power of the culture-as-ecosystem approach will offer new insights into the intriguing interface between culture and cognition in development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)247-270
Number of pages24
JournalInfancia y Aprendizaje
Volume43
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2 2020

Keywords

  • Wichi community
  • concepts
  • culture
  • ecological knowledge
  • ecosystem approach

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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