Publication 2933

Gash H. & Murphy-Lejeune E. (2005) Children's perceptions of other cultures. In: Deegan J., Devine D. & Lodge A. (eds.) Primary voices: Equality diversity and childhood in irish primary schools. Institute of Public Administration, Dublin Ireland: 205–221. Fulltext at
In this chapter, we will present various research projects dealing with children’s perceptions of other cultures, the word “culture” referring primarily in this instance to other national or ethnic entities. The issue of perceptions of other cultures is important in that it is linked with children’s constructions of their identity and may eventually determine their attitudes and behaviour to many others. Children construct social images of the groups they belong to and of other groups at an early stage of their socialisation. These early representations are acquired without them being aware of the processes at work. This is why representations often resist modification. This issue is difficult to deal with in schools and the tendency is for teachers to keep away from it. Outlining the nature, characteristics and role of social perceptions and representations of otherness in cross-cultural communication is a first step towards a fuller understanding of this area. We agree, however, with Goldstone who warns that researchers who identify difference merely reify it. We suggest strategies in line with the constructivist philosophy of the Primary Curriculum to promote pluralism. Relevance: This chapter is about identity construction in different cultures. It provides evidence of the variations in such constructions depending on the cultural context.

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