This ethnographic study was conducted in rural Punjab, Pakistan and it explores infant care belief practices and associated fears in connection with the social value of the child in rural Punjabi socio-cultural context. The study is comprised of articles that provides theoretical, methodological, visual and emperical insight of the social value of the child. This study is based on the perspectives of the interdisciplinary social study of childhood and social construction of infant care belief practices in connection with socially valued child. This study explores and presents the social value of the child and its different interconnected facets, associated fears related to the social value of the child and its physical vulnerability. The study also explores the magico-religious aspects of the infant care beliefs practiced in rural Punjabi context to protect the child against harms and ‘harmful’ people. Data used in this research was obtained through six month fieldwork completed in three rounds using an ethnographic approach. Participant observation and in-depth unstructured interviews were used as primary data collection tools.
The main theme “the Interconnectedness between Infant Care Belief Practices, Fears and the Social Value of the Child” discusses the triangle that interconnects the social value of the child with the fears of losing a child and corresponding infant care belief practices. Under this theme discussion is extended to familial, religious and emotional value of the child. The fears are related to the evil effects, fertility issues, childlessness, and infant heath and survival. The infant care beliefs are about protecting mother and the child during pregnancy and after birth. Second theme “Magico-religious Belief Practices Related to Infant Care” discusses the idea of sympathetic magic that interprets the magico-religious paradigm of infant care belief practices including fears, protection and remedies. Based on the findings presented in the articles and cross-cutting themes, the study concludes that infant care belief practices situate different aspects of the cultural lives of the parents and children. The social value of the child that constitutes the status of the child in the society brings to light several infant care belief practices that are means to ensure children wellbeing. There is a complex and meaningful interconnection among religious, emotional and familial value of the child that ultimately encompass the socially value child. In this connection health and survival of the child is a primary concern of the parents and the community. The magico-religious aspect of these belief practices provides a cultural cognition to make sense and give meanings to these belief practices and their efficacy.