John Bowlby's Attachment Theory

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In this essay I will talk about the origins of Attachment Theory John Bowlby (1958, 1960) and a discussion of the ‘Strange Situation’ (Ainsworth et al., 1978). I will consider the ethics of the study, the social- cultural perspectives on the work and I will analyse how it has influenced policy decisions and practice within the Early Years Education Sector. John Bowlby formulated the basic tenets of Attachment theory. The background to his theory is based on his work he had undertaken after he graduated from University in 1928 he went on to volunteer in a school for maladjusted children, later starting a career as a child psychiatrist (Senn, 1977). The basis of his attachment theory was that the infant or child suffered if he did not have “…a warm, intimate and continuous relationship with his mother (or permanent mother substitute) in which both find satisfaction and enjoyment” (Bowlby, 1951, p. 13). In this period - post war Britain, there had been a shift in women’s roles before they had taken on many male jobs due to absence of men because of the war. However after the war, nurseries were closed and women were back at home as primary carers. This support Bowlby’s theory of maternal deprivation and other physiological ideas which supported that children would be negatively affected without the full time presence of the mother. Bowlby’s reports such as Maternal Care and Mental Health report (1951) had a great influence of the policy regarding residential and hospital practices for children being based on children who had been separated from their mothers during war time ‘the evacuees’. Also his investigations into the backgrounds of problematic criminal activity led him to argue that separation from mothers was an inherently tr... ... middle of paper ... ...even years parents must give informed consent as the child may not have the cognitive ability to understand what is being asked of them’ Institute of Medicine (2004 cited in Keenen and Evans, 2010:78). There are also incentives for the child which should be fair and not excessive. The idea of deception means that certain studies may require the researcher to hold back certain information however the researcher must show that such deception is necessary and justifiable. An important ethic is confidentiality where records of research should be kept in such a way to ensure participant confidentiality. However if some information reveals the child’s welfare is at risk then parents should be informed. Finally there is dissemination in early years practice the child is often too young to understand research findings so a summary should be given to the child’s parents.
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