Major Sociological Paradigms

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EFFECTS OF NEGLECT, ISOLATION, ABONDONMENT AND MATERNAL DEPRIVATION

 

Much support for nurture can be summed up in a quote taken from ‘Invitation to Sociology’ by Peter Berger, 1963:

“Clearly our identities, even our lives are socially bestowed and socially sustained”.

Sociologists believe that human physical, social, cognitive, moral and emotional development do not unfold automatically. Instead, the newborn (neonate) becomes a human being through interaction with others who teach the norms and values of society as well as the language of the culture through a process known as socialization. This socialization is the link between culture and social structure.

The importance of nurture (administering care, comfort and protection) is quite obvious when one examines the effect of non-socialization, neglect, isolation and abandonment on babies, young children and adults. Some of the effects can be identified by examining the following cases:

a) The Feral children

b) Anna

c) The wolf boy of Av

d) Concentration camps

e) Solitary confinement centres

Some of the observable effects are :

* Lack of sensory and motor development

* Lack of language development

* Lack of communication skills

* Defective personalities

* Emotional problems

Some important studies (empirical evidence)

a. Rene Sputz (1945) conducted a study on neglected children in an orphanage, where the ratio of nurses to children war 1 -10. He discovered that although physical needs were being met, personal contact was limited. Sputz concluded that a lack of personal contact produced socially crippled children.

b. Province and Lipton (1962) also conducted a study which examined institutionalized care. They compared infants raised in institutions to family-reared infants. They found that institutionalized infants received excellent nutrition and physical care but limited social stimulation.

Institutionalized infants showed signs of retardation, they possessed poorly developed language skills. Province and Lipton believed these signs were evidence of social deprivation.

John Bowlby and the effects of Maternal Deprivation

John Bowlby was a British Development psychologist in the psychoanalytic tradition who promoted the idea that human infants would develop only one specific attachment to its mother (monotropy) which was completely different from other relationships which it developed. Bowlby felt that it would cause the child great distress and lasting change if the relationship with the mother was broken. He therefore felt that it was essential for the infant to remain in almost in almost continual contact with its mother during the first five years of life. For Bowlby, the consequences of broken attachment to the mother would result in the following conditions:

* Reduced intelligence – the child will be less intelligent than other children

* Juvenile delinquency

* Lack of social conscience and an inability to maintain social relationships

* Less affectionate