• 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.

Creating Ourselves: Signs, Myths, and Resistances
Creating ourselves: Signs, myths, and resistances

Our world is not what we immediately perceive, but what we instantly interpret. The very beginnings of such interpretation are already inherent in our perceptual system in the form of illusions (Figure 5.1). Here we already encounter the organism's tendency to operate at the level of wholes, rather than parts or elements that make up a whole.

Figure 5.1 Triangles that are illusions

Culture—from the perspective of semiotic cultural psychology—is embodied through the relation of the person with the reconstructed environment. It is through cultural means—signs—that we modify our first interpretations of the surroundings. Such interpretation is guided by encoding into our environments the social expectations of other human beings (see Chapter 9 on the ...

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