In the Arms of Our Ancestors: The Universal Social Phenomenon of Human Child Care
Sammanfattning: Care is a fundamental need to all human children, in all cultures and through all of human existence. While child care is universal, its practices are cultural-specific. Inspired by this cultural differentiation, this study explores the universal social phenomenon of human child care in an evolutionary, historical and cultural perspective in a theoretical framework of feminist anthropology and the theory of care ethics. We found that human child care in prehistoric time has been formed by infant-carrying, frequent breastfeeding and cooperative breeding, a result congruent with observations of child care practices in present-day hunter-gatherer societies organised similar to prehistoric societies. Child care recommendations from the Western industrialisation showed a remarkably different practice of child care and that the societal changes following the industrialisation, specifically the geographical organisation of families and organisation of labour to a high degree affected child care practices. We found that child care practices are shaped in adaption to society and by applying the feminist concept of the dichotomy of nature and culture we found that the different cultural approaches to child care practices can be understood as congruent with a greater or lesser opposition between the categories of 'nature' and 'culture' in a society.
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