The culture we nurture

One of the motivations for establishing our Collection, was to contribute engaging curatorial practices to conversations about cultural development. We hope that through our efforts, children have a greater say in where we are heading collectively, through their own cultural contributions. This blog entry is about culture and the underlying question “What do you make of children’s culture or culture itself for that matter?”

The current pandemic, and subordinate recession, already have profound psychological effects and will impact our cultural environment for years, maybe generations to come. The global crisis is challenging the nations’ ability to cooperate, and at the same time is triggering all sorts of antisocial impulses, while exposing many inequalities and systemic shortcomings.

During the past twenty five year or so, the notion of a culture specific to children has made its way in fields such as social psychology and anthropology. It is debatable whether the concept of “culture” should be attributed to children socializing and building common knowledge together. Even if we admit that such a culture is a fact of life, we can argue at length how autonomous from the surrounding multigenerational culture it really is. Still, how today’s children see themselves and the society in which they grow up during these circumstances, is something all of us should pay close attention to.

Before we can visit far away relatives again, re-orient our professional life, retire earlier than initially planed, or go on a leisure trip, let’s take a moment to think about what culture means to us. Assess for yourself how inclusive of children your culture is and could become. Explore in depth what professor Lawrence A. Hirschfeld says on the subject, in his stimulating article The Rutherford Atom of Culture (Journal of Cognition and Culture, 2018, p.231-261) We find him quite apropos when he says that “cultural life may demand that we hone new psychological tools to account for a kind of existence that is not individual difference writ large but literally foreign to the psychological toolbox.” Professor Hirschfeld’s articles are available online at ResearchGate, as well as OpenEditions Journals. He teaches at the Departments of Psychology and Anthropology, New School of Social Research (New York City).

Rutherford Atom, by CBurnett. Source: Wikimedia.com, 24 May 2021.

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