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About this book

Social workers today operate in an increasingly ethnically diverse society, yet many of the models that they use fail to reflect that diversity.
Lena Robinson's exciting and innovative text draws on literature from Britain and North America to explain child development from a cross-cultural, black and ecological perspective. Using practice examples to illuminate key points for social workers, she considers a range of key topics from attachment to identity and communication to socialization. This will be essential reading for social workers at all stages of their careers who want to develop strength-based, anti-racist and culturally sensitive practice.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

Abstract
As British society has become more heterogeneous, cross-cultural effectiveness has emerged as an essential skill for all social workers who work with children and young people. Over the past two decades, social scientists (mainly in the US) have become increasingly aware of the contributions that cross-cultural research findings can make to our understanding of human development. Little of the current social work literature in Britain has addressed the issue of cross-cultural child development. Articles and books written for social workers on child development are Eurocentric in nature and as a result require considerable adaptation before they can be responsive to some of the needs of black children. Kagitcibasi (1996) notes that developmental psychology textbooks ‘tend not to include cultural differences, or they treat them as extraneous variables’ (p. 4).
Lena Robinson

2. Attachment Theory: Cross-Cultural Perspectives

Abstract
This chapter is not intended to be an exhaustive overview of attachment research (for a detailed review see, Bretherton and Waters, 1985; Parkes and Stevenson-Hinde, 1982). Instead, the aim of this chapter is to focus on one aspect of attachment that has sparked considerable research and debate in the past few years, the role of culture. More specifically, this chapter will examine the concept of attachment and its relevance in cross-cultural settings. It will also explore the implications for social work practice in multicultural Britain.
Lena Robinson

3. Racial/Ethnic Identity Development

Abstract
One of the primary tasks during adolescence is the self-conscious search for and development of one’s identity (Marcia, 1980; Waterman, 1985). According to Waterman (1985), identity must be viewed as both a process and an outcome and ‘refers to having a clearly delineated self-definition, a self-definition comprised of those goals, values, and beliefs that the person finds personally expressive, and to which he or she is unequivocally committed’ (1985, p. 6). Waterman suggests that this development and subsequent commitment occurs in a variety of domains, including, but not limited to, the areas of career selection, political ideology, worldview, and the adoption of social and sex roles. Failure to establish identity commitments in these domains has particular psychological and social concomitants that can lead to role confusion, commitments to negative or dysfunctional roles, or both. One’s identity and the attendant self-evaluation of that identity are most salient in the domains the individual considers to be most important (Waterman, 1985). Because race and ethnicity within Britain and US can have such a profound effect on personality development and psychological growth throughout the life span (Simpson and Yinger, 1985), the successful negotiation of one’s racial or ethnic identity is crucial to the development of a functional self-concept and positive self-evaluations for black adolescents/ethnic minority youth (Cross, 1985; Phinney and Rotheram, 1987; Spencer, 1988).
Lena Robinson

4. Cognitive Development: Cross-Cultural Perspectives

Abstract
Cognitive development is an area in psychology that is concerned with the study of how thinking skills develop over time. Cognition includes the psychology of thinking, what we usually call intelligence. Theories of cognitive development have traditionally focused on the period from infancy to adulthood. One theory has dominated this field during the latter half of the 20th century, and that is Piaget’s stage theory of cognitive development. The testing approach (intelligence tests) is more concerned with cognitive products than the process of development. This approach attempts to ‘measure behaviours that reflect mental development and arrive at scores that predict future performance such as later intelligence, school achievement and adult vocational success’ (Berk, 2001, p. 158). In Britain and the US, the term intelligence is used to refer to a number of different abilities, skills, talents, and knowledge, generally all referring to people’s mental or cognitive abilities.
Lena Robinson

5. Communication: Cross-Cultural Perspectives

Abstract
This chapter will address from a psychological point of view issues relating to intercultural communication with black children and adolescents and their families. An understanding of cultural differences in communication will enable social workers to communicate effectively with black children and adolescents.
Lena Robinson

6. Socialization: Cultural/Racial Influences

Abstract
What is socialization? Like many concepts in developmental psychology, socialization can be variously defined. According to Kao et al. (1997) socialization refers to ‘an explicit transmission of appropriate values through deliberate attempts to shape, coax, and mould children’s behaviour’ (Segall et al., 1990) (p. 154). Chambers and Patterson (1995) state that ‘socialization is something that emerges from thousands of exchanges between the child and family members spread out over a period of many years. During these exchanges, the child is altering the behaviour of the parent at the same time that the parent is presumably ‘socializing’ the child. It is this mutuality of effects that makes it very difficult to analyze cause and effect relations’ (1995, pp. 211–12). According to Maccoby (1992), contemporary theories of socialization place greater stress on the interactive exchanges between parent and child as contributors to behaviour. In addition, explanations have become more complex and multidimensional than those offered by earlier approaches. Closely related to the process of socialization is the process called enculturation. This is the process by which youngsters learn and adopt the ways and manners of their culture. Another term closely related to enculturation is the concept of acculturation (see Chapter 3).
Lena Robinson

7. Conclusion

Abstract
There are now a considerable proportion of children living in Britain who belong to ethnic minority groups and who differ ethnically and culturally from the majority population. However, there is a dearth of research/literature on the development of ethnic minority children in social work textbooks and professional journals. Social work texts on childcare make little reference to culture. For example, the only reference to culture in Hill and Aldgate’s (1996) text is a warning that ‘a stance of cultural pluralism may oversimplify complex issues’ (p. 115).
Lena Robinson
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