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European Journal of Psychology of Education

, Volume 31, Issue 1, pp 29–42 | Cite as

Research and the young child in India: shifting from alienation to adaptability using an expanded framework

  • Nandita ChaudharyEmail author
  • Punya Pillai
Article
  • 248 Downloads

Abstract

Conventional psychological research has focused primarily on intrapersonal dimensions of human activity, often evading shared knowledge, interpersonal perspective-taking, and collective beliefs. The ideology of individualism and the ‘embryonic fallacy’ are largely responsible for the focus on the individual as an isolated entity. Most available methods for assessment are transacted through the temporary separation of a “subject” from a familiar cultural setting. In the case of children, this instantly distances them from known surroundings. When researchers adopt methods created and standardized in a different cultural context, there is a double alienation; first of the social setting, and the second, more profound (but less evident) distancing is ideological, between the shared reality of the community to which the child belongs and the culture of origin of the method. This paper provides evidence from research on Indian children to discuss the importance of adaptation to the context and shared understanding. By identifying three distinct levels of activity, the subjective, inter-subjective, and inter-objective, we bring forward some of the processes that often remain hidden in the study of the individual. These levels are then employed to discuss specific research encounters.

Keywords

Subjectivity Inter-subjectivity Inter-objectivity Cultural psychology Research methods Context-sensitive research 

Notes

Acknowledgments

Some of the research quoted in this chapter has been possible on account of generous research grants. The authors would like to thank the University Grants Commission, New Delhi, India; and the Indian Council for Social Science Research, New Delhi, India.

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Copyright information

© Instituto Superior de Psicologia Aplicada, Lisboa, Portugal and Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Lady Irwin CollegeUniversity of DelhiDelhiIndia

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