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Social scaling and children's graphic strategies: A comparative study of children's drawings in three cultures
Linköping University, The Tema Institute, Department of Child Studies. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
1994 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This cultural comparative study examines social scaling in children's drawings and whether children's formal graphic strategies follow the lines of traditional develop­mental stage models. Moreover, an attempt is made to develop methodological tools for comparative cultural research on children's social worlds.

For this purpose, children in three communities were asked to make drawings of classroom life (fourth-graders) and their future family (fifth-graders). In total, 591 children were recruited from three settings: a Tanzanian town, a refugee settlement in Tanzania of the African National Congress, South Africa and a Swedish small-town. These settings were chosen in order to involve cultural variation in terms of pedagogical practices and child-rearing ideologies. Instead of absolute measures, relative rating scales (within drawings) were developed for the scoring of children's drawings and for the comparison of drawings between cultures.

The findings of the present work lend support to the notion of social scaling, that is, social space in drawings (relative size, distances and degree of detailing, etc.) reflects children's hierarchies of importance. Thus, children's self-representations in relation to teacher representation vary with pedagogical practices across cultures. Swedish children produced more self-centered (child-centered) representations of classroom life than any of the African groups. The children in the traditional respect-oriented culture (Tanzanian town group) drew the most sociocentric and least child-centered representations, whereas children from South Africa produced drawings that were intermediate. Differences in social scaling were thus related to cultural differences in pedagogical practices and child-rearing ideologies. Likewise, children's social worlds, as reflected in family figure drawings, vary with child-rearing ideologies in the three different settings.

The analyses of graphic strategies for both tasks indicated that the African groups employed X-ray strategies to a greater extent than the Swedish children. Quite contradictorily, if viewed from stage-type theorising, the African children simultaneously employed advanced projection systems to a greater extent than the Swedish children. Moreover, the children in the two African settings would in many cases combine these theoretically incompatible drawing strategies. A second analysis of formal graphic strategies showed that children in the two African settings independently employed the same specific local drawing conventions by depicting buildings in a non-representational way. Such local conventions are of theoretical interest in that they question representational models of drawing development. The present results challenge claims for universal or stage-type models in the way children's drawing develops. Instead, the results can be seen to support sociocultural approaches to child development.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköpings universitet , 1994. , 70 p.
Linköping Studies in Arts and Science, ISSN 0282-9800 ; 118
Keyword [en]
Children's drawings, Social scaling. Children's social worlds, Graphic strategies. Cultural variation. Representations
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-35092Local ID: 24829ISBN: 91-7871-462-1OAI: diva2:255940
Public defence
1994-12-16, Sal C 3, Hus C, Universitetsområdet Valla, Linköping, 13:15 (English)
Papers, included in the Ph.D. thesis, are not registered and included in the posts from 1999 and backwards.Available from: 2009-10-10 Created: 2009-10-10 Last updated: 2012-07-12Bibliographically approved

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Andersson, Sven
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