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Questions addressing people's moral lives, similarities and differences in the moral concepts of cultural groups, and how these concepts emerge in the course of development are of perennial interest. In a globalizing world, addressing what is universal and what is culturally distinctive about moral development is pressing. More than ever, well-substantiated knowledge of diverse peoples' moral compasses is needed. This book presents the cultural-developmental theory of moral psychology, findings from numerous countries, and four instruments for conducting cultural-developmental research. The central thesis is that humans are born with a shared moral heritage and that, as we develop from childhood into adulthood, we branch off in diverse directions shaped by culture - resulting in novelty and contention. An international group of eminent and cutting-edge scholars from anthropology, psychology, and linguistics addresses this timely topic and explores how gender, social class, and 'culture wars' between liberals and conservatives play into moral development across cultures.
Globalization is increasing the challenges adolescents face in developing coherent prosocial values. In many societies, traditional systems of value transmission are eroding and youth are exposed to more diverse reference groups and cultural belief systems. This chapter examines the developmental processes through which youth work together with peers to formulate values in the face of these challenges. We focus on organized youth programs as a valuable arena to understand and support these processes. Using qualitative longitudinal data from 11 culturally diverse, high quality programs, we identified two interlinked peer processes of value work. The first process entailed youth actively opening themselves up to moral realities beyond their own. This occurred through listening, “talking out,” and coming to empathize with the personal experiences of others. The second process involved collective analysis. Youth discussed each other’s stories; they compared, challenged, and critiqued the basis for different value positions.
Piaget theorized that youth develop moral principles through interactions with peers. This chapter provides grounded theory on how similar processes function in a global world. Under favorable conditions, peers play powerful roles assisting youth’s efforts to synthesize hybrid value perspectives. They pool their collective experiences to analyze and wrestle with the vexing value issues of a pluralistic world. The chapter concludes with a review of how similar and differing processes of value development may be enacted across global cultural contexts.
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