Although all human societies have beliefs about what is right and wrong, the study of the conscience and moral development across cultures is understudied. The proposed research combines qualitative and quantitative research methods to answer the following questions about the conscience and character development among the Maasai:
(1) What moral values and virtues are parents teaching their children to help them succeed in a competitive market economy?
(2) In what ways do religions influence the moral values of children?
(3) In what ways does moral enculturation differ between groups of different socioeconomic status, geographic locations, and levels of exposure to global religions and market influences?
(4) What are the moral values held in common by traditional Maasai thought and the global cultural influences that it has confronted?
(5) To what extent do the traditional moral values of the Maasai overlap with those introduced by the market, formal education, missionary work, and other globalizing forces?
(6) Does that overlap provide a basis for negotiating the development of the conscience in this time of rapid change?
Findings from this research will be presented at six conferences and published in six peer-reviewed journals. Findings will help reveal how human values evolve and are accepted, challenged, transformed or take new forms in situations of cultural change. This will be the first research of the conscience studied from both qualitative and quantitative methods and from interdisciplinary perspectives including the intersections of religions, cultural practices, socioeconomic status, geographic location and exposure to market economies. These findings will contribute to an understanding of the nature and evolution of the conscience cross culturally.
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