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.
Chapter 2: What Is Culture? And Why Human Psychology Needs to Be Cultural?
What Is Culture? And Why Human Psychology Needs to Be Cultural?
Culture is ephemeral. It is everywhere, and yet we cannot point to it. We feel we know what it is, yet we fail to define it. We can intelligently talk about it, yet it is never quite clear what we are talking about. It is one of the great enigmatic inventions of Occidental history. It is even not too old an invention. As such, discourses about culture emerge in the context of European history, in encounters with people of other backgrounds and activities where the knowing of differences of the Self from the Other(s)—trading trips, pilgrimages, and military conquests—was crucial for ways of living.