Unit 13: Introduction
Cultural Perspectives on Families
for Cross-Cultural Research
There is little doubt that all cultures relay on the social unit of the family for the generation and perpetuation of economic, political, artistic, and educational vitality and well-being. Variances in family life give rise to essential cultural differences in belief systems, child rearing, marriage practices, and regard for elders. Therefore, the study of family structure and the interactions of families of differing spiritual and ethnic traditions is of great interest and importance to cross-cultural psychologists, sociologists, and anthropologists. Within this unit, family life within various cultures past, present, and future are addressed.
The cross-cultural study of families - their structure, their function, how they may be modified across generations - is currently a hot topic. Led by researchers such as Turkish psychologist Cigdem Kagitcibasi (who wrote a chapter for this unit) and James Georgas, a psychologist from Greece, we can expect to see much more research in this area. A chapter on this topic from Brazilian psychologists Dessen and Torres provides an example of some of the concerns in this domain of research. We can expect to see more interesting contributions from a widening network of family-oriented psychologists from around the world.
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