Social development is a continuous process that begins in childhood. Children start developing social and emotional skills learned from their parents and the people around them. Koninklijke (2016) concludes that social awareness and appropriate behavior concerning violence and relationships, including ranks, are acquired from mothers, groups, and communities. Through the progressive learning processes, children understand how to manage their feelings and needs as they mature and the emotional state of other people. A child brought up in an abusive environment is more likely to be aggressive as compared to the one brought up in a calm environment. Culture plays a vital role in the social development of an individual through the acquired values, set of attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors of a certain group of people. According to Albert and Tromsdorff (2014), social development occurs in a cultural framework whereby culture affects social development and vice versa. When individuals participate in culture, their mental and physical health improve significantly, contrary to those who do not.
Culture shapes one’s social behavior, interactions, and interpersonal relations throughout his or her lifespan, as opposed to conclusions reached by many researchers that human development takes place significantly in infancy and childhood. Albert and Tromsdorff (2014) record that a person continues to develop socially till old age due to human behavior changes, including biological changes in old age that result in a shift in social roles and developmental tasks from the elderly to the young adults. Different cultures have diverse customs and norms that govern and shape the behaviors of the members of the group. Individuals from western cultures, including the U.S, may exhibit different social behaviors from those of people from East Asia. The differences in these two cultures is a result of the diverse nature of their customs, as the Asian culture is collectivistic, while that of Western is individualistic (Rubin, 1998; Rubin & Menzer, 2010). In some cases, however, different cultures may exhibit similar behaviors despite the diverse customs and values. Although, according to Rubin and Menzer (2010), these similar behaviors could be interpreted inversely across cultures.
Cultural concepts differ across cultures but may exhibit similar behaviors. Rubin and Menzer (2010) indicate that researchers deduce that the Western culture is individualistic as it promotes independence and competition among individuals, whereas the Asian culture is collectivistic, in a manner that individuals are encouraged to practice interdependence, harmony, and cooperation. Asian children are more likely to exhibit prosocial behaviors, such as sharing, caring, and politeness compared to a child from a Western nation due to the collective nature of the customs learned for conventional social purposes (Rubin & Menzer, 2010). Moreover, children raised on the foundation of the individualistic culture are more aggressive than those brought up in a collectivistic background, since Asian children value harmony and cooperation with others. Though, in both cultures, children tend to form friendships with those similar to them in terms of gender, age, and social inclinations and spend more time with them than with non-friends.
Social development is a lifespan phenomenon that is culturally influenced. During childhood, an individual starts developing self-awareness through learning and observing behaviors of people around, especially parents. Most children develop their confidence and self-esteem at this point and might start building relationships with other people, including their peers. They learn to differentiate friendly people from abusive ones by observing individuals’ behaviors. That is why aggressive children are likely to face discrimination from their peers. Positive social development encourages the establishment of positive relationships with family members, friends, and other people (Koninlijke, 2016), whereas negative social development results in the formation of negative relationships. Golden (1998) indicate that a child exposed to maltreatment and domestic violence is likely to exhibit aggressive behaviors. They are equally poor problem-solvers and might experience difficulties in forming positive social relationships.
During childhood, children start understanding their gender identity and roles by comparing themselves to their parents. The understanding of one’s identity and roles influence how they relate and form relationships with others. Most girls will form relationships with their fellow girls due to shared interests and roles, while boys will establish friendships with male children. These tendencies might, however, change as they approach adolescence. Cultural influencers, such as globalization and digital transformations, have greatly influenced the way individuals produce, experience, and access culture, thus impacting subjective social wellbeing (Grumer, Silbereisen, & Hekhaussen, 2013). These influencers have altered some cultural norms and shaped people’s behaviors, both positively and negatively. For instance, in the past, homosexuality was unaccepted by many cultures based on religious values and moral beliefs. The practice was unheard-of, and victims were punished harshly. Although the practice is still not advocated for by some cultures, the majority of western cultures support and protect the rights of homosexuals strongly. Digital transformation has played a major role in promoting homosexuality, which is currently a social norm. Teenagers and youths can freely share their sexual orientation status and find partners via social media platforms and other applications. Underage teenagers can access media activities and images that contribute negatively to their social development. They may start engaging in maladaptive behaviors that result in drug addiction, early pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, and injuries due to violence.
While most researchers claim that social development takes place mainly at childhood, Albert and Trommsdorff (2014) dispute this argument by indicating that the development process is a continuous one through old age, due to changes in human behavior. As people mature and approach old age, they experience biological and social changes. They become weak and might be incapable of conducting their normal duties and roles; thus, young adults assume elderly social roles. Equally, the socialization aspect for the elderly diminishes, especially for retirees as a result of reduced contact with former workmates, deaths of friends and family members, and relocation of close relatives. These negative social changes lead to poor mental and physical states. However, Communications MDR (2016) highlight that participation in arts, which is a cultural aspect, can enhance the health and wellbeing of older adults since involvement in such cultural activities get rid of isolation through strengthening social cohesion and promoting mental and physical wellbeing. Therefore, social development is a lifespan phenomenon. I would encourage the people around me to participate in cultural aspects like arts in order to benefit physically and mentally through entertainment, shared moments, motivation, and festivity in order to help them develop socially in relation to culture.
Social development is a lifespan process that is culturally influenced. Cultures are diverse and result in different behaviors among individuals. However, some behaviors might be similar across cultures though interpreted differently by specific cultures. Cultural influencers, such as globalization and digital transformation, impact social development processes of individuals. Some people can acquire positive behaviors while others negative ones based on the effect caused. The research, however, fails to include the social development changes and effects of middle-aged adults in relation to culture and does not consider the migration impacts on individuals. Researchers should expand their studies and examine how middle-aged people are influenced culturally in their social development processes, and study the effects of migration on the victims and how it impacts their social development.
Albert, I., & Trommsdorff, G. (2014). The Role of social development over the lifespan: An interpersonal relations approach. Online Readings in Psychology and Culture, 6(2). Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.9707/2307-0919.1057
Communications MDR (2016). Environmental Scan of the Culture Sector: Ontario Culture Strategy Background Document. Ontario. Retrieved from 362587567_Environmental_scan_of_the_culture_sector_Ontario_culture_strategy_background_document_1471316377799867.pdf
Grumer, S., Silbereisen, R. K., & Hekhaussen, J. (2013). Subjective wellbeing in terms of social change: Congruence of control strategies and perceived control. International Journal of Psychology, 48(6): 1267-1283. Retrieved from https://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00207594.2012.744839
Golden, C. L. (1998). Early exposure to violence leads to aggression in children. Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Retrieved from https://opensiuc.lib.siu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1125&context=uhp_theses
Koninklijke, B. L. (2016). Culture and Evolution. Retrieved from 362587567_Culture_and_Evolution_peer_review_2218121453706787.pdf
Rubin K. H. & Menzer, M. (2016). Culture and social development. Encyclopedia of Early Childhood Development. Retrieved from 362587567_culture-and-social-development_2978133829514605.pdf
Rubin, K. H. (1998). Social and emotional development from a cultural perspective. Developmental Psychology, 34(4): 611-615. Retrieved from 362587567_social_and_emotional_development_from_a_cultural_perspective_6462985882804428.pdf