• Summary
  • Contents
  • Subject index

An Invitation to Cultural Psychology looks at the everyday life worlds of human beings through the lens of a new synthetic perspective in cultural psychology – that of semiotic dynamics.

Based on historical work from many different fields in the social and behavioural sciences, and the humanities too, this perspective applied to cultural psychology suggests that human beings are constantly creating, maintaining and abandoning hierarchies of meanings within all cultural contexts they experience. It's a perspective that leans heavily on the work of the great French philosopher, Henri Bergson, only now being realised as a core basis for human cultural living.

Jaan Valsiner is the founding editor of the major journal in the field, Culture & Psychology, and Editor of the Oxford Handbook of Culture and Psychology. He is the first Niels Bohr Professor of Cultural Psychology at Aalborg University in Denmark, where he leads Europe's first Research Centre on Cultural Psychology.

Introduction: Why Cultural Psychology? Making the Human Condition Meaningful
Introduction: Why cultural psychology? Making the human condition meaningful

This book is about how we—human beings—make ourselves, and our world. We do so through being compulsive meaning-makers—whatever we encounter in our lives we need to make sense of, rather than only react to or act upon. Or even more precisely, as we react to and act upon the world in the middle of which we live, we construct it as meaningful for ourselves. And it is that meaningful way of living that is central to us.

Furthermore, our efforts are possible since this meaning construction habit has itself emerged as the major feature of our being a species—Homo sapiens—that can reflect upon others, and upon itself. Such self-reflexivity ...

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