Marga Vicedo on “Putting Attachment in its Place: Disciplinary and Cultural Contexts”

A new article on the history of attachment is now in press at the European Journal of Developmental Psychology. Marga Vicedo‘s piece explores the reception of John Bowlby’s and Mary Ainsworth’s theories of attachment and puts these into context. Full details below.

“Putting attachment in its place: Disciplinary and cultural contexts,” by Marga Vicedo. The abstract reads,

This paper examines the reception of John Bowlby’s and Mary Ainsworth’s ethological theory of attachment among anthropologists and cultural psychologists. First, it shows that from Margaret Mead’s criticisms in the mid 1950s to the present, many of them have challenged the main tenets of attachment theory but attachment theorists ignored those challenges. Second, it argues that we need to understand the different disciplinary goals of psychology and anthropology after WWII in order to illuminate the lack of attention to children’s cultural context in attachment research. The privileging within psychology of laboratory data over field observations supported the rise of attachment research focused on the strange situation procedure and contributed to the neglect of ethnographic data about children in their socio-cultural milieu. Recognizing the importance of studying children in context, however, recent studies by anthropologists and developmental psychologists sensitive to the power of culture have deepened the challenge to attachment theory.

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About Jacy Young

Jacy Young recently completed a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Surrey in the UK. She earned her doctorate in the History and Theory of Psychology at York University in 2014.

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