Traditional and Modern Contributions to Changing Infant-Rearing Ideologies of Two Ethnic Communities

Daniel G. Frankel, Dorit Roer-Bornstein, Robert A. Le Vine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The modernization of infant-rearing ideologies was investigated by interviewing grandmother and granddaughter generations of 2 ethnic communities—Yemenite and Kurdish Jews—about pregnancy and delivery, postpartum care of the mother and newborn, and infant care and developmental expectations. The sample was limited to 60 biologically unrelated women who lived in ethnically homogeneous semicommunal farming villages. Results show that both traditional and modern influences affected the contemporary infant-rearing ideologies of the 2 communities. Traditional differences in the emphasis on the mother–infant relationship, cognitive development, motor development and physical/biological effects on development and health, as well as relative differences in developmental expectations, all were reflected in the ideologies of the granddaughter generation. Modern contributions were indicated by a rejection of much traditional ritual and the demise of spiritual/magical explanation. Modernization was also associated with an attribution of greater competence to the young infant and an increased recognition of the psychological characteristics of infant development and the psychological demands of infant caretaking. Yemenites were more accepting of psychological explanations, while Kurds were more accepting of the medical/biological/physical explanations of infant behavior and development.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-53
Number of pages53
JournalMonographs of the Society for Research in Child Development
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1982


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