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Universalism without Uniformity

Universalism without Uniformity

(p.1) Introduction Universalism without Uniformity
Universalism without Uniformity
Usha MenonJulia L. Cassaniti
University of Chicago Press

This chapter elaborates on the distinctive qualities of cultural psychology, an interdisciplinary field that has emerged over the last few decades at the intersection of anthropology, psychology, linguistics and philosophy. One of the major issues addressed within cultural psychology is how to take cultural diversity in attitudes and practices seriously while also acknowledging our shared humanity. And, as this chapter explains, cultural psychologists attempt to do so by assuming that culture and psyche make each other, neither one being thought of as prior to nor independent of the other. Emphasizing the significance of context, these scholars regard the abstract potentialities of the human mind—the ability to feel, act, and think, to have norms and work toward goals—as being universal yet emergent, realizing their full potential only within the context of the symbolic and behavioral traditions of a community. The chapter also points out that the fundamental distinction that separates cultural psychology from the fields of cross-cultural psychology and psychological anthropology is its explicit disavowal of psychological universalism. Thus, cultural psychologists, no matter what their original disciplinary backgrounds, tend to assert that ethnic divergences in self-organization, in mental processes and in moral and emotional functioning run deep.

Keywords:   culture, psyche, cultural context, symbolic and behavioral traditions, psychological pluralism

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