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The factors and drives that allow human beings to grow, mature, and develop—natural predispositions (nature) or sociocultural influences (culture)—have been debated for centuries. Especially with regards to children, nature versus culture discussions accompany scientific endeavours from the very beginning. This entry first reviews the different aspects of the nature versus culture debate historically, and then it reveals the consequences of the respective standpoints for regarding and researching children; finally, it states the position in the nature versus culture debate of current childhood studies.

Foundations of the Debate

With regard to the nature versus culture discussion, diverse disciplines participating in childhood studies emphasise different perspectives. Whereas sociological and educational childhood studies focus almost exclusively on the significance of the social and cultural environment for children’s lives and socialisation, ...

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