Transformations in Family Collaboration Across a Generation in a Mayan Community
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Transformations in Family Collaboration Across a Generation in a Mayan Community

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Research has indicated that Indigenous children of the Americas often collaborate more skillfully — through fluid synchrony — than middle-class children from several highly schooled backgrounds (Alcalá, Rogoff, & López-Fraire, 2018; Chavajay & Rogoff, 2002; Mejía-Arauz et al., 2007; Ruvalcaba & Rogoff, submitted). However, with globalization, there have been dramatic community changes that may relate to changes across generations in ways of collaborating. Many Indigenous American communities have increased schooling, widened access to digital technologies, and decreased family size and Indigenous language use (Rogoff, 2011; Rogoff, Correa-Chavez & Navichoc-Cotuc, 2005). The present study directly examined generational change in family collaboration, by comparing the interactions of the same Guatemalan Mayan family groups across 30 years using the same procedure as was videotaped 30 years earlier. Twenty-two mothers and a related 1- to 2-year-old toddler and 3- to 5-year-old child were videotaped exploring novel objects during a home visit in 1990. In 2020, the toddler/child generation of the 1990 families was videotaped in the same situation with their related toddler and 3- to 6-year-old. The mothers in the 2020 cohort were also asked about community changes in child-rearing practices across the generations. This study examined whether the two cohorts differed in the extent to which all three people (mother, toddler, and 3-5-year-old) were engaged together. In line with expectations, the results indicated that the 2020 cohort families spent less time with all three people (mother, toddler, and 3- to 5-year-old) in collaboration than the 1990 cohort (M= 38% vs 73% of the time segments, respectively). Although on average the 2020 cohort families were less collaborative than the 1990 cohort families, a few of the 2020 families were actually more collaborative than their 1990 counterparts. The 2020 families who collaborated more than their 1990 family members tended to be involved in practices that resemble the practices from 30 years before: Children spoke Mayan Tz’utujil, families had experience with traditional Indigenous Practices, mothers had basic schooling, and families had a low level of involvement with digital technologies. In sum, on average, Mayan family triads in 2019-2020 tended to collaborate less as a triad than their own families did 30 years before, although some families who participated less in globalized practices and more in traditional Indigenous practices that have been traditional seemed to maintain the collaborative approach of their relatives of the prior generation.

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