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Ecologia culturale è un termine ideato da Julian Steward per spiegare la relazione dinamica tra la società umana e il suo ambiente, in cui la cultura è vista come il principale meccanismo adattivo. L'ecologia culturale è il filone di ricerca delle scienze etnoantropologiche che investiga le relazioni tra gli aspetti socio-culturali dei gruppi umani e l'ambiente nel quale vivono, in stretto rapporto con altre discipline quali ecologia, geografia umana, biologia, archeologia, economia, demografia. Tale branca disciplinare fu proposta per la prima volta, appunto, da Julian Steward nel 1955, nel testo Theory of Culture Change; The Methodology of Multilinear Evolution. Questa breve, ma importante, premessa per ricordare quello che l’associazione Culturale SECEM ( Scuola di ecologia culturale euro mediterranea) porta avanti anche in questo Blog con contributi e post che si ispirano a questo modello. Vi proponiamo, oggi – fine d’anno 2013, anno in cui abbiamo trattato l’Etica della retorica e l’etica stessa della comunicazione un documento, in lingua originale, sull’ecologia culturale, un brano dal titolo:
An Eco-Cultural and Social Paradigm
An Eco-cultural and Social Paradigm
for Understanding Human Development:
A (West African) Context
Prima di inserire il documento vi facciamo i nostri migliori auguri e vi ringraziamo per la vostra attenzione, quest’anno abbiamo superato le nostre previsioni di visitatori delle nostre pagine che dal 2008, con successivi tre blog, anche per la chiusura di splinder, abbiamo realizzato per voi, hanno raggiunto quota 50000! Solo quest’anno ci hanno seguito 21000 lettori e questo significa che il nostro lavoro di ricerca, anche se svolto con una “naturale” forma di ironia e autocritica per alleggerire l’insostenibile leggerezza dell’essere e con riflessioni sul mondo politico che ci circonda e nel quale dobbiamo navigare, è stto se è di vostro gradimento. cerchheremo sempre di darvi un po più di quello che le normali agenzie di divulgazione della "Cultura" vi danno! Grazie a tutti voi e buon 2014 da tutta la redazione SECEM.
An Eco-cultural and Social Paradigm
for Understanding Human Development:
A (West African) Context
Dorris E. Ngaujah
Human Development and Learning (DE803)
Dr. Dennis H. Dirks
In understanding how the human person de velops and learns, the age–old debate over nature versus nurture has been challenged by the growing body of contemporary wisdom affirming the latter’s profound significance. Theorists and their theories--that have attempted to study humans in isolate ion--devoid of their embedded culture and specific socialization, have been critiqued, analyzed and found wanting. Many psychologists in the past have raised the issue of the developmental environment as a determinant in the overall development of the individual. However, psychology, being a science of the Western worldview, and its mainstream gatekeepers has insisted on studying the individual as though he or she develops and comes in to full maturity of self without being affected by the social a nd eco-cultural environment in which the development occurs.
Not all Western psychologists and huma n scientists, though, are so naïve and lacking in intellectual prowess, for some, those affiliated with Critical Psychology and Cross-Cultural Psychology, have dared to acknowledge that the social context of the individual in fact, determined the very experimentation (the methods, tools and tasks) researchers used to determine development.
Consider: The use of a paper and pen to answer researchers’ questionnaires is a western socialized construct.
The problem with Western theories is that they are just that—Western theories.
Consequently, the assumption of universality—the belief that the findings (or the results) of studies done in narrow and unique cultural contexts (though few have been done with the socio-cultural context in mind) are universal and applicable to all human contexts--is fraught with error, misconceptions and misinformation. As a western minority person and as an experienced traveler and novice teacher, I am keenly aware of the inapplicability of some popular development theories to my own sense of development and to certain people groups I have had the privilege to visiting in Africa. With eagerness, I have sought to know what theorists and/or educators from the African continent had to say about human development (and learning) in their own context. So I was delighted to discover the writings of the theorist I am presenting in this paper.
He is a psychologist from the West African country of Cameroon, trained in his native country, in Nigeria and in the United States who posits the imperative that human development in Third World (a term no longer in vogue in the 21century) countries is to be understood and investigated quite differently from human development in the West.
He argues “Western worldviews and social reality that organize and inform research differ markedly from those of Third World cultures” (Nsamenang 1992b:16).
His name is Augustine Bame Nsamenang (preferably called, Bame). His professional and academic work is identified with Critical Psychology and his theory of Eco-Cultural and Social Paradigm.
2. human development embraces a biological, ecological, sociological, political and cultural paradigm.
His book, Human Development in Cultural Context: a Third World Perspective is an expose of the “characterization of ontogeny as a cumulative process of integration within the community and clan [that] differs in theoretical focus from the more individualistic accounts proposed by Freud, Erikson and Piaget” (Serpell, 1994:18)
In this paper, I will attempt to articulate 1) the impetus for such a different way of understanding human development, 2) Bame Nsamenang’s nine-stage theory, 3) a synopsis of his empirical studies done with Nso children of his country, and 4) his perceived shortfall of effective psychological studies in his and other African contexts.
Subsequently, I will suggest how Bame’s theory and those of other critical and/or social theorists inform the cross-cultural education and missiological communities. Lastly, I will attempt to show what biblical and/or theological integration came be made from this particular view of human development.
Definition of Terms
1. Apprenticeship (used metaphorically) is an activity in which novices advance their skills and understanding through participation with more skilled partners in culturally organized activities. The extended value of the apprenticeship model is that it includes “more people than a single expert and a single novice: the apprenticeship system often involves a group of novices (peers) who serve as resources for one another in exploring the new domain and aiding and challenging one another” (Rogoff 1990:39).
2. Ecology of human development involves the scientific study of the progressive, mutual accommodation between an active, growing human being and the changing properties of the immediate settings in which the developing person lives as this process is affected by relations between these settings and by the larger contexts in which the settings are embedded. It includes reciprocity (Bronfenbrenner 1979:21-22).
3. Ecological environment (Bronfenbrenner 1979:22-26) is conceived topologically as a nested arrangement of concentric structures, each contained with the next. These structures are referred to as the micro-, meso-, exo-, and macrosystems.
a) Micro-system – a pattern of activities, roles, and interpersonal relations experienced by the developing person in a given setting.
b) Meso-system - comprises the interrelations among two or more settings in which the developing person actively participates (such as for a child, the relations among home, school, and neighborhood peer group; for an adult, among family, work, and social life).
c) Exo-system refers to one or more settings that do not involve the developing person as an active participant, but in which events occur that
affect, or are affected by what happens in setting containing the developing person.
d) Macro-system refers to consistencies in the form and content of lower order systems (micro-, meso-, exo-) that exist or could exist at the level of the subculture or the culture as a whole, along with any belief systems or ideology underlying such consistencies.
4. Ecological experiment is an effort to investigate the progressive accommodation between the growing human organism and its environment through a systematic contrast between two or more environmental systems or their structural components, with a Eco-Cultural and Social Paradigm 3 careful attempt to control other sources of influence either by random assignment (planned experiment) or by matching (natural experiment). The purpose of which is “not hypothesis testing but discovery—the identification of those systems properties and processes that affect and are affected by the behavior and development of the human beings” (Bronfenbrenner 1979:37-38).
5. Ecological transition occurs whenever a person’s position in the ecological environment is altered as the result of a change in role, setting,
or both (Bronfenbrenner 1979:26).
6. Ecological orientation to research emphasizes the subjects definitions of the situation and accord far more importance to the knowledge and initiative of the persons under study (Bronfenbrenner 1979:32).
7. Experienced as used in micro-systems is used to indicate that scientifically relevant features of any environment including not only its objective properties but also the way in which these properties are perceived by the person s in that environment . . . . Very few of the external influences significantly affecting human behavior and development can be described solely in terms of objective physical conditions or events: the aspects of the environment that are most powerful in shaping the course of psychological growth are overwhelmingly those that have meaning to the person in a given situation” (Bronfenbrenner 1979:22).
8. Human Development (in the environmental context) is the process through which the growing person acquires a more extended differentiated and valid conception of the ecological environment and becomes motivated and able to engage in activities that reveal the properties of, sustain, or restructure that environment at levels of similar or greater complexity in form and content (Bronfenbrenner 1979:27).