Early Childhood Socialization: Reflections of Women as Former Orphans in Two Catholic Orphanages in English-Speaking Cameroon Open Access
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In this phenomenological study I investigated the effects of early childhood socialization in the orphanage on the educational decisions of adult African women. I worked with eight adult women between the ages of 23-48 who had spent some of their early childhood in one of two Catholic orphanages in Anglophone Cameroon. I used Bourdieu's Cultural Capital Theory as my theoretical framework. I used Human Capital Theory to support my main theoretical framework. I conducted semi-open, one-hour long interviews and follow-up interviews with participants. I analyzed my data using a blend of the simplified Stevick-Colaizzi-Keen Method of data analysis and Richmond's Schematic Organization of the Story Map rubric.The most important finding was that the relationship between participants and their fathers in childhood and early adolescence was the most important factor in successfully completing secondary school. A close personal relationship between a father and his maternally-orphaned daughter was also found to be related to self-confidence and self-efficacy among participants who graduated successfully from high school. The second important finding was that the family's cultural capital conceptualized in fathers' educational background and his social and economic background were also important factors in a participant's enrollment, level of education, and successful graduation from school. The third important finding was that participants were unaware of gender differentiation and gender socialization.I also found that early socialization received in the orphanage shaped participants' worldview and their worldview in turn shaped their academic and other life decisions. Growing up in the orphanage influenced their worldview through the values of faith, hope, and charity, inculcated into them through Catholic precepts and this in turn affected their choices. These findings seem to suggest that there is the need for a balance between the teaching of Catholic precepts that focus on the salvation of the soul in the "after life" and an early introduction of formal education for social justice, self-preservation, family aggrandizement, and sustainable employment. The findings also seem to suggest that nurturing fathers empowered their maternally-orphaned daughters and helped cushion the negative effects of gender socialization on their female children.
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