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 8: Cultivating Environments: Over-Determination by Meaning
Cultivating Environments: Over-Determination by Meaning
Human beings construct meanings in flexible ways. This takes place through their encounters with their environments. The latter turn into Umwelts—agent-centered environmental settings (Chang, 2009)—and acquire rich meanings through the meaning-making act. Places, acts within places, and actors themselves, establish different meanings dependent upon the settings. A surgeon using a scalpel cutting open a live person's body in an operating room is not a murderer, a distinction we can understand only through the use of distinctive meanings: surgeon rather than a random man passing by, scalpel rather than a knife or a dagger, operating room rather than a kitchen. Our description of one and the same act—cutting of a body—rapidly specifies which of the many versions ...