Culture & Psychology

Published by SAGE Publications
Online ISSN: 1354-067X
Publications
Book
In this book, action theory is used to focus on individual action and experience, and people's contributions to culture; an approach the author will call cultural psychology. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
 
Article
This editorial introduces this issue on intersubjectivity. In summary the multi-level complex of intersubjectivity and interobjectivity is a framework for analysis of the cultural construction site of the self. Communicative processes between these levels--between self and an other--lead to the selective connecting of the multi-level system. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
 
Article
The central unifying line that is represented in Culture & Psychology is the historical (that is-in a general sense-developmental) perspective on culture, in its many different forms: social conduct, discourse, semiotic mediation of psychological processes, etc. This need for turning to historicism in the social sciences is evident from the current discourse in science. Much of the present widespread social constructionist talk has emphasized the lack of-and a great need for-historical orientation in all of the social sciences. Two main (and equally important) directions are charted out. First, Culture & Psychology covers the usually overlooked theme of culture in human development over the whole life course. The second relevant theme in Culture & Psychology is that of social discourse, which likewise constitutes a dynamic process at different levels of its organization. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
 
Article
Embargoed by the publisher until December 2010. Full text of this item is not currently available on the LRA. The final published version is available at http://cap.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/15/4/463. DOI: 10.1177/1354067X09344890 Metadata only Recollection of child sexual abuse involves complex issues of agency—both in the past and in the present. Adult women survivors face the further obstacle of ingrained cultural tendencies to question women’s testimony. Ambiguity and ambivalence are found in adult women’s accounts of their past abuse and present particular dilemmas. Drawing on social remembering approaches developed in memory studies, it is argued that recollections have to negotiate issues of incidence and intentionality in the past as well as the potential contribution made by non-human participants (e.g. objects, spaces, bodies). Using examples from interviews with survivors of child sexual abuse, we illustrate how objects (largely domestic objects and spaces) emerge in the memories as a way of posing and subsequently disposing ambiguity. Objects, as well as humans, ‘modify the state of affairs’ (Latour, 2005) and serve as the means to punctualize recollected episodes. An analytic approach sensitive to the role of objects in recollection, which is grounded in material-semiotics, is offered.
 
Socio-cultural scope of a collaboration group
Article
International collaboration projects in academic work can be considered boundary-crossing projects with learning potential. Contrary to perceiving diversity as a barrier for understanding, we depart from dialogical arguments in perceiving ambiguity and diversity as continuous resources for meaning enrichment. Here, we report a study of an international academic project to gain more insight into how this resource is exploited. Using Bakhtin’s theory, negotiation processes are analysed and explained by distinguishing voices stemming from different socio-cultural backgrounds. Project members did not explore fully the voices being expressed in their negotiation processes and therefore did not come to face their differences. We conclude that diversity should neither be seen as an obstacle for understanding, nor be presupposed as a resource for meaning generation. Rather, diversity should be actively worked on by group members in collaboration, starting by perceiving each other as real ‘others’ and receiving arguments initially as not understood. Key Words boundary crossing, collaboration, dialogical processes, discourse analysis, diversity, multivoiced
 
Article
To challenge the treatment of culture and self as reified entities, Hermans (2001) proposes a model of both culture and self as a multiplicity of dialogical positions. We question whether this model fully responds to his challenge. First, the notion of positioning itself appears to reify culture by treating flowing patterns as fixed locations. Second, the notion of dialogue appears to neglect the possibility of automatic influence from implicit cultural patterns. This implies a core, universal self whose functioning is insensitive to cultural variation. We suggest an alternative approach to the problem of reification: to conceive of culture not as group, but as patterns. Corresponding to this shift, we propose a distinction between the negotiation of cultural identity and the cultural grounding of self. As a model of identity negotiation, Hermans' dialogical self makes important contributions: it emphasizes the multiplicity of identity highlights the agency of the self as a constructor of identity and suggests the importance of psychology-and the study of self, in particular-for the study of culture.
 
Article
This theoretical article presents a cultural-level analysis of stereotype content concerning derogated outgroups in the West. It proposes that the ethos of self-control is a key source of widespread thinking about outgroups, and thus a key factor in the social construction of certain groups as superior and others as inferior. Drawing on the social representations approach, the article complements and extends existing analyses of stereotype content that stem from social identity theory and the structural hypothesis. By emphasizing cultural values, particularly that of self-control of the body, it casts light on neglected sources of stereotype content such as its emotional, visceral and symbolic roots. Furthermore, by exploring other dimensions of the self-control ethos—linked to the mind and to destiny—the paper shows that derogated outgroups are often symbolized in terms of contravention of multiple aspects of self-control. Finally, the paper contributes to a cultural understanding of social exclusion by investigating the origin, production and diffusion of the symbolization of outgroups in terms of deficits in self-control.
 
Different strategies to escape 'school'
Article
Theoretically the paper addresses the question of how official and unofficial discourses are related and what function the unofficial register serves for the official one. It draws on the idea of ‘underlife’ and the heterogeneity of discourse in order to show how the unofficial discourse can be a productive tool for students to both distance themselves from school and negotiate school identities in order to create new, and (for students) more compatible, forms of ‘school’. Institutional settings do not automatically produce the institutional scripts, positions and norms they are associated with; rather, they need to be authored by participants who ‘instantiate’ these scripts, positions and norms. This paper focuses on how students author school (the official) but at the same time produce alternative discourses (the unofficial). A data set of transcribed student group talk in a multi-ethnic classroom in the Netherlands is used for the analysis.
 
Article
This paper takes up Tappan’s (2006) project of analyzing the identity development of Malcolm X. Considering Malcolm X’s autobiography as an instance of mediated action, I show how he uses the mediational tool of ‘development as metamorphosis’ to narrate himself. Because of the similarity between this mediational tool and Tappan’s own theory, I question Tappan’s use of the autobiography to illustrate his theory. Utilizing data sources beyond the autobiography, the present analysis makes three theoretical points. First, the development of Malcolm X’s identity is not so much a series of ‘liberations’ as it is the accumulation of discourses from different social strata. Second, it is the complex and unresolved inter-relations between these discourses that comprises the uniqueness of Malcolm X. Third, ideological becoming is often, as in Malcolm X’s case, constrained by social structure. In conclusion, I discuss methodological issues concerning the analysis of a public figure such as Malcolm X.
 
Article
This article adds a social-spatial dimension to ethnicity construction while acknowledging the production of ethnicity as constructed through a relation of the ‘‘here and now’’ and an imagined (common) past. Empirically, social-spatial analysis is elaborated by looking at how social difference is produced in multi-ethnic schools through classroom interaction both in the USA and in the Netherlands. In our analysis, we are concerned with how ‘‘school’’ becomes evoked or produced in student discourse while ethnic positions are established. At the same time we show how spaces such as migrant neighborhoods and homelands are evoked and related to school spaces. The results show that more general mechanisms can be distinguished of how students use these spaces in their constructions of otherness across the data sets, but that the quality and complexity of these mechanisms are specific and can be related to the more general (migration) histories of the ethnic groups.
 
Article
Since its inception more than forty years ago, social representations theory has been subjected to several criticisms, particularly within British discursive psychology. This paper reviews four major controversies that lie in the areas of (a) theoretical ambiguities, (b) social determinism, (c) cognitive reductionism and (d) lack of a critical agenda. A detailed discussion and evaluation of these criticisms reveals that while some can be regarded as misinterpretations, others need to be treated as serious and constructive suggestions for extending and refining the current theoretical framework. The main argument underlying this review is that many of the criticisms are based on the difficulty in understanding and integrating the complex, dynamic and dialectical relationship between individual agency and social structure that forms the core of social representations theory. Engaging with the critics is thus thought to provide clarification and to initiate critical dialogue, which is seen as crucial for theoretical development.
 
Article
Human life consists of stability interspersed with ruptures. Transitions that follow such ruptures, offer a window on processes of change at the level of skill acquisition, identities, but also meaning construction. The article explores various uses of cultural elements such as books, movies or religious baggage as symbolic resources for such psychological development. It introduces the notion of interiority to have access to the work of these symbolic resources on emotions. Such uses of symbolic resources are examined through a study of the procedure of choosing first names during the transition to parenthood. The notion of symbolic competencies, as the abilities to use cultural elements as resources for thinking, action and development, is proposed to account for interpersonal differences and is discussed.
 
Article
This commentary identifies respects in which the theories of culture adopted in the culture and self and sociocultural traditions of cultural psychology are each constrained, in part, by their psychologically grounded research agendas. While tapping non-rational and thematic aspects of culture, research on culture and the self provides only limited insight into its dynamic and heterogeneous nature and into processes of enculturation. In turn, while capturing the fluid and complex nature of cultural systems, sociocultural work neglects its non-rational and thematic aspects. In both traditions, relatively little attention is given to power. The discourse analysis of family interaction undertaken by Pontecorvo and Fasulo (1999) is shown to overcome many of these limitations. Treating culture as an integrated, complex system which is integral to human interaction, their approach captures processes of cultural creation and change as well as power relations. In conclusion, it is argued that there is a need for greater cross-fertilization of ideas across the diverse traditions of research in culture and psychology, while respecting their distinctive insights and agendas. Peer Reviewed http://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/bitstream/2027.42/67530/2/10.1177_1354067X9954005.pdf
 
Article
It is shown that Vygotsky's concept of culture was codetermined by two fundamental traditions in the human sciences. The first tradition was initiated by Humboldt and exerted a powerful influence on Vygotsky's thinking through the works of Potebnya and Shpet. Vygotsky's thinking about linguistic mediation was to a large extent determined by this tradition. The second tradition was that of Marxism and progressive thought and influenced Vygotsky's thinking about such notions as tool-use and social and cultural progress. The way in which Vygotsky combined these different perspectives in his concept of culture is described. It is suggested that this concept of culture was powerful but also limited and biased.
 
Article
Causal effects are different from evolutionary discontinuities. As far as Lock (2000) and Savage-Rumbaugh and Fields (2000) deal with the relation of animal behavior and human activity, they have in common that they argue against an implicit misinterpretation of evolutionary discontinuities as causal effects. As a consequence, it is argued in both papers that it is not the biologically determined animal nature that prevents primates from using human language. The two papers disagree, however, on Bickerton’s distinction of protolanguage and language proper and, therefore, on the nature of ‘ape language’. It is argued in the present commentary that this different judgment results from the fact that evolutionary progress appears continuous on the level of the individual, but discontinuous on the level of a whole population.
 
Article
This article focuses on a novel theoretical paradigm emerging in the study of human creativity: the cultural-psychological approach. It starts by differentiating between the long past of individualistic accounts of creativity (the lonely genius) and the short history of psychological understandings (the creative individual). The social and the cross-cultural psychology of creativity are both considered, together with their advantages and current limitations. Creativity is generally conceptualized as a process of artifact generation and five broad principles for a cultural psychology of creativity are presented. In clarifying the nature of creativity, a special consideration is given to the relationship between individuals, creativity, and culture. Finally, the role of the community in fostering and assessing creativity is suggested as a more realistic solution to the individual—society debate.
 
Article
Computer printout. Thesis (Honors)--State University of New York College, Geneseo, 2001. "Advisor: Dr. Chierici." "Spring 2001." Includes bibliographical references (leaves 48-57).
 
Article
In psychology there is a growing research interest in issues of ethnic minority identity and acculturation. In this research the emphasis is on relatively stable or enduring internal dispositions and attitudes. Studies on the way ethnic minorities define and account for their identity are scarce. However, ethnic minority members often have to explain and justify their identity, not only in interactions with dominant group members but also in relation to their own group. The present study examines how Chinese people living in the Netherlands account for their ethnic identity. The focus is on the actual accomplishment and manifestation of ethnic self-definitions in talks with other Chinese. The analysis highlights the different resources the participants use to manage the normative issues and personal responsibilities involved. Accounts were accomplished by stressing the significance of appearance, the importance of early socialization and the (non-)possession of critical attributes. However, these deterministic accounts leave little room for personal agency, and the participants also tried to define an active and constructive role for themselves. It is concluded that discursive psychology can make an important contribution to our understanding of ethnic minority identity.
 
Article
This paper introduces the idea of symbolic resources as the use of cultural elements to mediate the representational work occasioned by ruptures or discontinuities in the smooth experience of ordinary life, moments when the ‘taken-for-granted’ meanings cease to be taken for granted. In particular we are concerned with the use of symbolic resources in moments of developmental transitions, that is, the mobilization of symbolic elements ranging from shared bodies of knowledge or argumentative strategies to movies, magazines or art pieces. The paper begins with a brief theoretical sketch of these ideas, and then presents three case studies, each of which involves the use of a different type of symbolic resource within a particular age group. In the first, children are observed in interaction with a peer about a conservation problem. In the second, adolescents are observed negotiating the meaning of their art productions with their peers, teachers and parents. The third example looks at Western tourists searching for spirituality, adventure and freedom in Ladakh as an alternative to the materialism of modernity. In each case the analysis of the symbolic resources employed indicates the significance of the gaze of the other in the construction of meanings, and of the various constraints operating within specific situations. The analysis also reveals different modes of use of symbolic resources, linked to changing forms of reflectivity.
 
Article
No Bakhtin’s dialogism is widely used to understand the mutual constitution of self and other in action. In this article, however, I argue that there is a second hinge to Bakhtin’s work that is currently underemphasized in the literature. This is his emphasis on the sense of action that accompanies dialogue. Bakhtin refers to action as sensed as ‘spirit’. In contrast, he refers to action relating to the other as ‘soul’. In this article, I outline these distinctions in Bakhtin’s thought before arguing that there is sometimes an intriguing and imaginative struggle between spirit and soul in dialogue. In this struggle, the distinctions between fantasy and reality can become blurred as the self risks potentially life-changing encounters with genuine others. The implications that this has for research practice in socio-cultural psychology are drawn out. In particular, I argue that the ‘spirit-soul’ distinction introduces a humanistic and optimistic view of the self-other relationship into cultural psychology.
 
Article
Jung's work is a serious attempt to engage psychology with `meaning', comparable with narrative psychology, though the two emerged in different cultural and historical settings. Whereas narrative psychologists typically study autobiographical stories, Jung studied images such as those appearing in dreams and myths. This study turns the question on Jung, examining a dream that he had regarded as the birth moment of his `collective unconscious' theory. The dream's contents vary when retold after many years in ways that mirror the interim development of his theory. Representations of the dream as a biographical event in others' writings reflect contrasting attitudes towards him. His use of the dream's image as heuristic in the dissemination of his theory is counterweighted by the dream's effect on him as a poetic image. The psychological function of the image for Jung is considered.
 
Article
Underlying all theories are philosophical presuppositions that lend themselves to different epistemological approaches, which need to be unfurled when comparing theories and offering alternative explanations. Contrary to Verheggen and Baerveldt's (2007) promulgation that `enactivism' may be an adequate alternative for Wagner's social representation approach, this commentary outlines how this may be a misguided position. Enactivism, following an outward trajectory from nervous systems, to minds, to `(inter)action', to social enactivism, is incompatible with the dialogical epistemology underpinning social representations theory. Social representations are not reducible to individual minds, and dialogical interaction is not reducible to operationally closed `systems' in (inter)action. The difference between the two approaches lies in the fundamental paradigmatic distinction between molar and molecular explanatory frameworks. Offering one as an alternative to the other overlooks the epistemological differences between the two and fails to appreciate the discrepancies between different levels of analysis, explanatory frameworks and the very phenomena that theories problematize.
 
Article
Nicolopoulou and Weintraub (1996) raised doubts about the extent of the relevance of the Humboldtian tradition for Vygotsky's concept of culture, and his semiotic approach in general. However, these doubts are unfounded—Vygotsky was in direct contact with the 19th-century German traditions of philosophical analyses of language, as well as with their Russian elaborations. Furthermore, Vygotsky borrowed theoretical notions from two distinct traditions of thought—often contrasted (by Soviet sources) as 'idealist' and 'materialist.' Defying the demand to make such contrasts mutually exclusive, Vygotsky tried to blend productive moments from each of them into his approach. He was not a 'cultural relativist' in the sense of present-day North American social discourse. It is suggested that the concepts of development and relativism are in need of further elaboration, in ways that allow recognition of local progress while avoiding global claims where the bases of comparison are not made explicit.
 
Article
In this article, I explore how globalization discourses practices work together to form the identities of female Islamic bankers working in the first stand-alone women’s Islamic bank in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. An Islamic bank interacts with the individual by providing a discursive and physical space in which the subject can shape and respond to her desire to identify and engage with the debates in the global Muslim community about morality, practice and the role of Islam in every day life. Global financial systems and local gender practices are embodied in these buildings in a kind of “financial purdah”: building spaces become both a marketing tool and a support for globally based economic activity under the auspices of morality and tradition. Based upon fieldwork and interviews with Islamic bankers, I will show how normative global financial practices and local moral gender practices work together for the advancement of both.
 
-Procedures common across the four sites 
Sociogenetic elements contributions to goal-directed activities 
Article
Understanding relations between the social and cognitive contributions to thinking and acting has become a pressing goal for psychological theorizing. Central to understanding these relations is the negotiation and construction of knowledge that is comprised of the inter-psychological processes that engage both cognitive and social experiences. This paper proposes that these processes can be understood through a complex of relations among different sociogenetic sources and between those sources and individuals' agency as constituted by their life histories or ontogenies. Rather than a single sociogenetic source, the social contributions are held to have historical-cultural and situational geneses. However, through inter-psychological processes these contributions are mediated by individuals' unique and socially shaped cognitive experiences. Findings from an investigation of the same vocational practice (hairdressing) conducted in four different work settings are used to identify tentative relations between the sociogeneses of the goal-directed activities that individuals engage in, and how these individuals represent their knowledge in memory. Together, these findings tentatively elaborate particular sociogenetic contributions to individuals' thinking and acting, and relations between particular elements and phases of goal-directed activities and, hence, their impact on cognitive change (development). Yes Yes
 
Article
As adults, our social categories are flexible and abstract. We establish gender categories that include individuals from different racial groups, and racial categories that include individuals of both genders. But how do representations like these develop? In this chapter, we review the literature on infants' sensitivity to race and gender categories, and then offer new evidence concerning 7- and 11-month-old US infants' developing appreciation of social categories (gender; race). At issue is whether they appreciate gender- and race-based categories, and if so, how abstract these categories might be. During habituation, infants viewed a set of individual faces, all from the same racial and gender category (e.g., all White females). At test, they viewed two new faces, selected to assess the breadth of their social categories. At both 7 and 11 months, infants revealed an appreciate of gender categories (female, male) that were sufficiently abstract to include individuals from different racial groups (e.g., they included both black an white individuals in their category of females). The pattern for racial categories was different. At 11 months, infants revealed an appreciate of race-based categories (white, black) that were sufficiently abstract to include individuals from different gender groups (e.g., they included both females and males in their category of White). At 7 months, infants showed no such appreciation of race-based categories. This research opens several new avenues for research in this key area. In discussion these avenues, we highlight the role of experience in the development of social categories and underscore the importance of extending the developmental research to include infants and young children raised in a more diverse set of circumstances that reflect more fully the range of human social experience.
 
Article
The pandemic of COVID-19 has brought to the front a particular object: the face mask. I have explored the way people make-meaning of an object generally associated with the medical context that, under exceptional circumstances, can become a presence in everyday life. Understanding how people make meaning of their use is important. Using cultural psychology, I analyse preferences toward different types of face masks people would wear in public. The study involved 2 groups, 44 Norwegian university students and 60 international academics. In particular, I have focused on the role of the mask in regulating people affective experience. The mask evokes safety and fear, it mediates in the auto-dialogue between “I” and “Me” through the “Other”, and in the hetero-dialogue between “I” and the “Other” through “Me” The dialogue is characterized by a certain ambivalence, as expected. Meaning-making is indeed the way to deal with the ambivalence of human existence.
 
Article
Professor Peeter Tulviste (1945–2017) was a leading figure in the study of psychology and the history of psychology, whose life and scholarship went through several unexpected phases. Building on the writings of L.S. Vygotsky, A.R. Luria, and others, he was driven by a quest to understand others’ worldviews. Over his lifetime he was led him to see how such views can differ in ways that extend even beyond theoretical claims about how human mental life is situated in cultural, institutional, and historical contexts. He never lost his fascination with these issues and approached them with lifelong cosmopolitan leanings. At the same time, his commitment as an Estonian patriot grew stronger over the course of his career. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, Tulviste was able to travel to other countries, opening up new venues for cosmopolitan explorations, but it was also a time that made open, frank discussions of national identity possible. In his continuing scholarly research, as well as his work as the rector of Tartu University and as a member of the Estonian parliament, he took advantage of the opportunity to explore ideas about Estonian memory and identity in the final decades of his life.
 
Correlations among publication sources and yearly production quota of Ritalin 
Journals selected from the Readers' Guide to Periodical Literature: number of articles and number of paragraphs used in content analysis
Number of DSM-IIIR ADHD symptom categories presented in Readers' Guide to Periodical Literature articles DSM-III-R symptom Year Total 
Article
Considerable debate has arisen regarding many aspects of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), including the existence, diagnosis and prevalence of the disorder, the use of medications in treating young children for the disorder, and the long-term side-effects of the medications. A fundamental catalyst in this debate involves the numerous and diverse social representations of ADHD: the differing ways of perceiving what ADHD is, whom it affects, and the most appropriate treatments. This paper presents a discussion of social representations theory and its previous applications to the study of mental illness, connecting this theory with research in media framing. Quantitative and qualitative content analyses of print media representations of ADHD over a ten-year period are presented. Using results from the media analysis, we examine different processes through which these representations might influence perceptions of individuals experiencing ADHD-related symptoms, particularly as these perceptions relate to mental health treatment decisions.
 
Article
The paper is partly a review of a new book by Brady Wagoner on Frederick Bartlett as a theoretician of constructive memory, and partly a survey of what has become of memory constructionism. The basic message of Wagoner analyzing Bartlett is that constructive memory processes are not the exception but the rule. The details of the reemergence of this memory model in modern cognitive psychology are clearly presented by Wagoner. One crucial point is missing, however, that is analyzed in detail by the paper. Bartlett was using stories to support his contructionist theory. This attitude was coming up in the rediscovery of Bartlett as a narrative interpretation of memory schematization. New structural approaches to stories have been emerging in the work of Colby, Rumelhart, and others. Like Bartlett, they were looking for underlying social schematization and constraints, but this time round, there was a stronger linguistic and even structural emphasis. Narrative patterns promised to provide a substantial anchoring point for the otherwise elusive concept of schemata proposed by Bartlett. This turn affiliates memory schematization with theories that treat elementary sociality as a basic, not constructed feature of the human mind.
 
Article
Luria has long been one of the most influential authors in cognitive neurosciences, in particular in neuropsychology. New scientific advances and clinical observations have confirmed many of his proposals and hypotheses. In this paper one of his major ideas is analyzed: the influence of cultural factors on human cognition. The systemic-dynamic Lurian analysis of brain activity is based on Vygotsky's concept of higher mental functions, which are social in origin and complex and dynamic in their structure. Higher mental functions are based on a complex system of operations and means both external and internal. Living conditions and hence cultural characteristics have dramatically changed during the last half century with the development of new media and new virtual ways of communication. Review of contemporary developments supporting the appropriateness and usefulness of these concepts is presented. It is finally concluded that Luria is one of the major founders of contemporary neuropsychology not only from the clinical point of view, but also from the cultural perspective. His influence has continued undiminished during the 21st century.
 
Linear channel of management (Lima & Hviid, 2012). ECEC: early childhood education and care.
Article
The project investigated the development of more sustainable managerial practices than the widespread New Public Management. The concrete case concerned the public Danish daycare sector and included all groups of actors (children, pedagogues, parents, Centre leaders, administration and politicians) aiming at inventing structures and practices, which could support and preserve ‘the good daycare’. An analysis of the existing practices showed that the system in all its layers and interconnections predominantly was built on static ontologies. This included the guiding principles for children’s learning and development, the educational programmes and manuals as well as the formats of documentation and evaluation. Ambitiously, we suggested a change towards a processual ontology, in which dialogues between all groups fed into the establishment of a new managerial order, built on multi-voiced meaningful premises. We thus aimed at supporting the construction of new kind of knowledge, moving from abstract generalized to concrete generalized. The concrete generalized evolved through dialogues and interactions as collaborative strategies, guiding conceptualizations and procedures as well as a common care for the ‘we’ and the object of the shared attention: The good daycare. These processes are presented and discussed in the paper.
 
Article
Both Robert Innis’s and Svend Brinkmann’s works bring to the fore a notorious, but usually forgotten, topic on cultural psychology: the normative framework that regulates the relation between the researcher and the phenomena studied. In fact, these ‘models of human flourishing’, using authors’ terminology, are scarcely discussed in comparison to theoretical, methodological, and empirical issues. In the present paper, a number of potential reasons for this omission are explored. In particular, it is argued that discussing the normative and pragmatic side of the discipline appears as risky in two directions: turning cultural psychology into activism, and conducting value-laden research. For this purpose, the case of Arthur Jensen's 1969 controversial publication on IQ is discussed. This example is useful to reveal the challenges that cultural psychology must face in order to become more aware of its normative orientations; particularly the pragmatic, social impact associated to conduct research on human issues. Ultimately, it is shown that the apparent risks mentioned before emerge from implicit, outdated conceptions of both activism and scientific activity.
 
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Participation rate and percentage in classroom discussions.
Article
This study explored oral academic discourse socialization experiences of doctoral students at an English-medium tertiary institution in Northern Cyprus. It was a qualitative study involving audio-recording of a graduate class oral academic discourse and conducting interviews with the graduate candidates. Analysis of the oral academic discourse data showed that through participation in academic discussions the students negotiated their knowledge, constructed identity and agency. Analysis of the interview data also suggested the graduate candidates’ identity and agency co-construction as well as the novelty of the graduate candidates’ challenging socialization experiences over their academic studies in the graduate context. Overall, the study seemed to indicate that the participants’ socialization experiences facilitated their academic learning and development of academic discourse competence. The results of the present study are discussed in relation to the pertinent research to date.
 
Article
An interdisciplinary qualitative study working with 40 Native American academics, who were selected for their specific diverse backgrounds, focused on selected aspects of subjective experiencing they generally had in common. Participants experienced the socio-cultural contexts of mainstream academia and tribal communities as incongruent and based on conflicting values associated with the conceptualizations of individualism versus relationality and communal cooperation. Viewing these seemingly dichotomous concepts from the perspective of Native American tribal world views, however, enabled meaningful integration of these concepts. The innovative relational individuality conceptualization allows for appreciation of uniqueness and self-improvement efforts without adherence to the mainstream principle of competitive individualism. At the core of the involved conceptualization of relationality, with preference for communal cooperation, is the experience of one’s embeddedness in personal relationships and one’s involvement within groups as a valuable member, which cannot be explained by either the necessity of socio-economic and ecological factors or the imperative of conformity to collective conventions. The extent to which the independence–interdependence and individualism–collectivism dichotomies apply to this case is limited. The discussed relational individuality conceptualization, facilitated by Native American tribal world views and culturally specific narratives, extend the repertoire of thus far recognized mechanisms that underlie the existing cultural variation.
 
Article
The purpose of this study is to identify the structural elements—and their interrelations—of social representations of culture, circulating among university students. This approach has been employed by many researchers to provide a first level of exploration in terms of descriptions, evaluations, information, and prototypes related to the object of representation. The aim is also to explore if these social representations are different, starting from specific variables, mainly data production context and gender. The sample is made of 620 students (average age of 22) balanced on gender and discipline (physical sciences and engineering, social sciences and humanities, life sciences). We chose a quali-quantitative approach using an ad hoc questionnaire based on the Prototypical Stimuli. In particular, we asked the participants to choose from 18 social constructed (in a pilot study) icons of culture, the five prototypical ones. Then we asked them to write an explanation on the choice of each icon they selected and in the end to classify those icons in order of importance. The collected data were analyzed using the Hierarchical Evocations Technique. Results show the existence of hegemonic representations of culture, shared by all the participants. The theoretical and methodological implications will be presented and discussed.
 
Article
Conducting research in indigenous settings in rural villages, where traditional leaders are the custodians of communities remains a challenge. Traditional health practitioners have to adapt their protocols to the needs of the cultural setting. When gaining access to a setting, researchers have to follow a process that respects the autonomy of individuals, thus adhering to one of the ethical principles of research with human participants. In this paper, the researchers reflect on gaining access to conduct research with traditional health practitioners and traditional leaders in Vhembe district, South Africa. Researchers participated in sharing circles, and identified five reflective themes. The themes included initiating agreement and rapport, continuous negotiation and compromise, Them and Us, adhering to local dress code and ritual performance. Researchers planning to conduct research with traditional health practitioners and traditional leaders should consider these themes in the preparation phase.
 
Article
The concept of distancing or polarization plays a central role in Werner and Kaplan's account of symbol formation. It refers to the process of progressive differentiation and hierarchic integration of the four components constitutive of symbolic activity: addressor, addressee, symbolic vehicle and referent. Specifically, Werner and Kaplan suggest that distancing takes place between person and referent, between person and symbolic vehicle, between symbolic vehicle and referent and between addressor and addressee. We describe the theoretical context and different aspects of the distancing process. Furthermore, we argue that the distancing process identifies central prerequisites of symbolic activity that are largely ignored by contemporary developmental theories. We demonstrate the different aspects of the distancing process in several domains of symbolic development, including words, gestural development and pretend play. Finally, we compare Werner and Kaplan's concept of distancing to ideas of distancing developed in recent developmental theories.
 
Article
This article offers a conceptualization of intersubjectivity as shared meaning that emerges from and is enacted within the social fabric of interaction. The proposed model defines intersubjectivity as arising from shared activity rather than internal capacities. The forms and processes by which intersubjectivity is established are described as contingent on the sociocultural context of the participants and the situation in which the activity occurs. In addition, the materials used and the nature of the activity along with the developmental characteristics of the interacting group influence the nature of their intersubjectivity. Three related elements: synchrony, a sensitive coordination of affect and attention; meaningful shared activity; and intersubjectivity are seen as developing in a bidirectional relationship during interaction. This theorization was applied to four episodes of naturally occurring preschooler peer play. Comprised of preschoolers from low income, non-White families, analysis showed major differences in the process by which intersubjectivity developed among this population of preschoolers as compared to research on the intersubjectivity of middle-class White preschoolers. Based on the qualitative analysis, a view of intersubjectivity as culturally, developmentally, and activity specific is supported. However, the desire to establish common meanings or intersubjectivity in varied forms during play appears to be universal.
 
Article
Since the Second World War, the dominating paradigm of societal development has focused on economic growth. While economic growth has improved the quality of human life in a variety of ways, we posit that the identification of economic growth as the primary societal goal is culture-blind because preferences for developmental pathways likely vary between societies. We argue that the cultural diversity of developmental goals and the pathways leading to these goals could be reflected in a culturally sensitive approach to assessing societal development. For the vast majority of post-materialistic societies, it is an urgent necessity to prepare culturally sensitive compasses on how to develop next, and to start conceptualizing growth in a more nuanced and culturally responsive way. Furthermore, we propose that cultural sensitivity in measuring societal growth could also be applied to existing development indicators (e.g. the Human Development Index). We call for cultural researchers, in cooperation with development economists and other social scientists, to prepare a new cultural map of developmental goals, and to create and adapt development indexes that are more culturally sensitive. This innovation could ultimately help social planners understand the diverse pathways of development and assess the degree to which societies are progressing in a self-determined and indigenously valued manner.
 
Top-cited authors
Hubert J M Hermans
  • Radboud University
Tania Zittoun
  • Université de Neuchâtel
Jaan Valsiner
  • Aalborg University
Alex Gillespie
  • The London School of Economics and Political Science
Wolfgang Wagner
  • University of Tartu