Socialization and foreign nannies in the Arabian Gulf : a case study in Oman
Detailed examination of the nature of social change in Oman pinpoints the various ways in which the role of the family has diminished, and that of the state increased. In particular, the somewhat haphazard way in which, inevitably, the state has assumed the responsibilities for social welfare and education which were previously the sole province of the family, has weakened the framework of child socialisation which was once the bulwark of an Islamic society. This framework derives from the whole ethos of the child's socialising environment - previously the extended family with its spoken and unspoken Islamic ideals; now far more often the world of the nanny; alien, sometimes uncaring, and often imperfectly understood. That this environment is the enemy of successful socialisation was the hypothesis designed to be tested by the research. Current theories of socialisation in the earliest years of childhood, especially those of the `learning theorists', such as Bandura, emphasise the importance to the very young child of `bonding' - stable emotional attachment to one or two adult carers - for successful later emotional development. The child's cognitive, linguistic, psychological and social development is likely thereafter to depend on its role-models, on whose explicit and implicit assumptions about life the child is likely to base his own actions. How much these are in tune with his society will depend on how far these role models reflect, especially linguistically, the cultural assumptions of that society. To some extent, therefore, the closer the bond between child and nanny, the less likely he is (if she is non-Omani) to socialise successfully. It is in this context that the research set out to test the effects of foreign nannies on Omani children. Its objectives were therefore to see why families employed nannies; to see how they were employed; to study their personal lifestyles and even more importantly their backgrounds and the cultures from which they came; to try to discover their effects on the children in their charge, and to make some recommendations about their deployment.