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[New FCS paper!] Socialization, Autonomy, and Cooperation: Task Assignment among the BaYaka

We're thrilled to share the newest FCS paper by Adam Boyette and Sheina Lew-Levy, out now in Ethos, entitled "Socialization, Autonomy, and Cooperation: Insights from Task Assignment Among the Egalitarian BaYaka". The article is open access (hooray!) and can be found here.


Abstract: "Across diverse societies, task assignment is a socialization practice that gradually builds children's instrumental skills and integrates them into the flow of daily activities in their community. However, psychosocial tensions can arise when cooperation is demanded from children. Through their compliance or noncompliance, they learn cultural norms and values related to autonomy and obligations to others. Here, we investigate task assignment among BaYaka foragers of the Republic of the Congo, among whom individual autonomy is a foundational cultural schema. Our analysis is based on systematic observations, participant observation, and informal interviews with adults about their perspectives on children's learning and noncompliance, as well as their own learning experiences growing up. We find that children are assigned fewer tasks as they age. However, children's rate of noncompliance remains steady across childhood, indicating an early internalization of a core value for autonomy. Despite demonstrating some frustration with children's noncompliance, adults endorse their autonomy and remember task assignment being critical to their own learning as children. We argue that cross‐cultural variation in children's compliance with task assignments must be understood within a larger framework of socialization as constituted by many integrated and bidirectional processes embedded in a social, ecological, and cultural context."





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