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Table of Contents And Preface


Table of Contents



Part I   Psychology, Culture, Politics, Science


Introduction to Macro Cultural Psychology 

1.    Mainstream psychology vs. cultural psychology

2.    Culture comprises the explanatory constructs of psychological phenomena

3.    Culture

4.    Macro cultural-psychology

5.    Ontological principles

a.    Dialectics

b.    Functionalism

6.    Differences between macro cultural-psychology and other approaches to culture and psychology

a.    Cross-cultural psychology

b.    Cultural psychology

7.    Methodology

8.    Macro Cultural Psychology, Social Reform, and Personal Growth: Integrating Science, Politics, and Therapy

9.    Intellectual origins of macro cultural-psychology 


Chapter Two   Macro Culture  

1.    Enumerating and defining macro culture

2.    Macro cultural factors are more than aggregates of individuals

3.    The principles and objectives which unify and direct a macro factor may not be in the thoughts and motives of individuals who function within it

4.    The social, physical, and conceptual characteristics of macro factors are consciously administered and enforced by social bodies because they are pivotal to social regularity

5.    In most societies, macro factors are normally regulated and promulgated by a powerful elite

6.    Individuals introduce certain variations as they implement macro factors. However, variations must be limited if social regularity is to be maintained

7.    Macro cultural factors are specific to particular societies

8.    Macro cultural factors are integrated within a system

9.     Within a social system, certain macro factors are more influential than others

10.  The components of a social system are distinct at the same time that they are integrated

11. Macro cultural factors unify the behavior and psychology of disparate individuals

12. Macro cultural factors are the product of social struggle

13. Macro cultural factors are actual practices, not official pronouncements and policies



Part II Principles of Macro Cultural-Psychology



Chapter Three  The Dialectical Integration of Psychological Phenomena and Macro Cultural Factors   


1. Macro cultural factors were the impetus for humans to develop psychological capacities


2. Macro cultural factors are the "operating system" of  the mind


3.  Psychological phenomena are part of macro cultural factors


4.  Macro cultural factors organize psychological phenomena


a.    As a goal, or telos, of psychology

b.    As structuring frameworks of psychological phenomena

c.    As resources which individuals draw upon

d.    The cultural organization of psychology is not a

mechanical process, but depends upon subjective activity


5. Macro cultural factors imbue psychological phenomena with concrete characteristics   


6. Cross-cultural similarities in psychology are compatible with the cultural nature of mind


7. Psychological phenomena promote macro cultural factors


8. Psychology is a macro cultural factor


9. The relation of psychology to other macro cultural factors is a unity of differences.


10. Psychology mediates reactions to other cultural factors


11. Society is composed of diverse macro cultural factors which generate diverse psychological characteristics among individuals and within a given individual


12. Macro Cultural Factors Act on Psychological Phenomena in Complex Ways


a. One macro factor may be composed of several associated elements which collectively affect psychological phenomena


b. One macro factor may affect many psychological phenomena


c. Several macro cultural factors may contribute to one psychological phenomenon


d.    Psychological effects which appear in one macro cultural factor may be a function of other macro factors


13. Macro cultural factors are explanatory constructs of psychological phenomena


14. Macro cultural-psychology is a distinctive, universal social science




Part III Applications of Macro Cultural-Psychology To Research Methodology, Social Reform, and Personal Growth


Chapter Four:  Research Methodology for Macro Cultural-Psychology  


The cultural character of psychology can only be discerned in the lived psychology of people


Research on the macro cultural organization of psychological phenomena emphasizes concrete qualities of macro cultural factors and psychological phenomena


Qualitative methodology is necessary for investigating the macro cultural organization of psychology


Positivistic methodology, employed in cross-cultural psychology, has limited value for macro cultural-psychology



Chapter Five   Macro Cultural-Psychology, Social Reform, and Psychological Change  


The Need for Social Reform in Order to Enhance Psychological  Functioning


Evidence That Changing Macro Cultural Factors Alters Psychological Functioning


A Psychological Perspective on The Direction for Social Reform


The Possibility of Social Reform


The Need for Comprehensive Social Reform


Psychological Change Is Necessary to Facilitate Social Reform



Chapter Six   Macro Cultural-Psychology and Personal Growth  


Chapter Seven   Scientific and Political Deficiencies of Psychological Theories/Constructs That Minimize Macro Culture 


Traditional Psychological Constructs

Evolutionary Psychology

Individualistic Cultural Psychology


Epilogue: A Philosophy Of Science and A Social Philosophy For Macro Cultural-Psychology


Social Constructionism

     Ontological and epistemological principles

     Social philosophy

Critical Realism

     Ontological and epistemological principles

     Social philosophy




Name Index

Subject Index



This book aims to help resolve two urgent needs of our era: the need to develop a scientific comprehension of human psychology, and the need to reform society in order to solve pressing social ills. I seek to accomplish this dual objective by developing a cultural theory of human psychology.

It may sound odd to propose that scientific psychology and social reform have anything to do with each other, and that they can be jointly advanced by one activity. However, this is indeed the case. Both scientific psychology and social reform are only viable to the extent that they understand the cultural nature of human psychology. The cultural nature of human psychology binds scientific psychology and social reform together.

The discipline of psychology will only become scientific when it develops concepts and methods that explicate cultural aspects of psychological phenomena. The discipline must explain the nature of psychological phenomena that makes them susceptible to cultural influence, how psychological phenomena become culturally organized, the important cultural factors and processes that organize them, and the ways in which psychological phenomena reflect, support, and disturb culture.

These issues are equally vital to social reform. To be successful in improving human life, social reform must strive to enhance psychological functioning along with health care, education, child care, material well-being, and family integration. Social reform directed at psychological functioning must understand why it is open to cultural influence that will improve it. Social reform must understand ways that psychology is affected by cultural factors. It also identifies particular cultural factors that need to be expanded to generate fulfilling psychological functioning, and cultural factors that need to be modified or eliminated to limit unfulfilling psychological functioning. Social reform also needs to know how new social factors will enhance psychological functioning, and the ways this improvement will be manifested. Social reformers also need to know how to make social reform palatable to individuals with a given psychology. All of these issues concern the cultural nature of psychology.

Psychological science and social reform both need to comprehend the cultural nature of psychology in order to be successful in their respective domains. We may say that psychological science and social reform are two sides of the same coin. They address cultural psychology from different starting points (theoretical-academic vs. political) and with different objectives (understanding vs. practical improvement). However, they enrich (cross-fertilize) each other. Without the other, each is deprived of vital information that it needs.

This book elucidates a systematic cultural-psychological theory that contributes to scientific psychology and social reform.

I outline a theory which explains that psychological phenomena have cultural origins, characteristics, and functions. I name this theory "macro cultural-psychology." It emphasizes that broad macro cultural factors, such as social institutions, artifacts, and cultural concepts, are the basis of psychological phenomena, organize the form and content of psychological phenomena, and are the function, or telos, of psychological phenomena. I present evidence which substantiates these propositions.

Regarding psychology as tied to macro factors has the greatest significance for social reform and psychological change. For the more deeply that psychology is embedded in culture, and the more profoundly culture is embodied in psychology, the more necessary it is to understand culture in order to understand psychology, and the more necessary it is to reform culture in order to enhance psychological functioning. Conversely, the less central culture is to psychology, the less necessary it is to understand and reform culture in order to comprehend and enhance psychology. If psychology is primarily individually or interpersonally constructed with great individual variations, or if psychology is primarily determined by biological mechanisms, then there is little need to understand and reform culture in relation to psychological issues.

The political and scientific goals which inform this book complement each other. The political understanding and reforming of macro culture contributes to the scientific goal of understanding macro culture's importance for psychology. A political orientation does not necessarily impede scientific objectivity. Of course, politics does not supplant science. We need science to test the plausibility of political analyses. However, the political motive is quite central to emphasizing macro culture for psychology. Until more psychologists develop a political orientation to question and reform macro culture, they will fail to include macro issues in their academic study of psychology.

This book is not a compilation (handbook) of psychological variations in different societies. A great deal of social science research already demonstrates that psychological phenomena vary with cultural factors. The more important task is to understand why and how cultural variations in psychology occur. That is the objective of this book. I seek to understand the nature of human psychology, the nature of culture, the nature of the relation between them, the processes by which psychology comes to be culturally organized and variable, the ways in which the cultural organization of psychology is manifested, how psychology influences culture, and the role of agency, subjectivity, creativity, and personal responsibility in forming and re-forming culture and psychological phenomena.

"Why" and "how" questions are the central questions that science seeks to answer. Describing what occurs, or observing that something occurs does not qualify as science. Science is not content to compile facts. It uses facts as representatives of essential, unobservable explanatory principles and properties. This book follows this direction. It seeks to elucidate an explanatory science of human psychology by articulating the relationship (processes, or mechanisms) between psychology and culture. 

This book also contributes to multicultural understanding and communication. It sensitizes us to the ways that psychological phenomena are organized differently in different ethnic groups. It helps us understand psychological differences which lead to different behaviors. It enables us to communicate more effectively by taking psychological differences into account. The book additionally explains how macro cultural-psychology can aid people on an individual level to examine and enhance their personalities, emotions, perceptions, reasoning and learning strategies.

In addition to articulating a general theory of psychology, this book articulates methodological principles for investigating the relationship of cultural factors and psychology. These methods enable us to apprehend cultural factors embedded in psychological phenomena. They also enable us to perceive contradictions between culture and psychology which emanate from their distinctness. I emphasize qualitative methodology as the most objective and useful methodology for cultural-psychological research. I explain how it is more scientific, objective, and useful than positivism.

Macro cultural-psychology challenges definitions, explanatory constructs, theories, and research procedures which have been designed to study non-cultural aspects of psychological phenomena. It also challenges individualistic approaches to culture, social reform, and psychotherapy. To study macro cultural aspects of psychological phenomena, culture, social reform, and psychological change, we need a new conception of culture, psychology, and their interrelation. Simply adding variables to mainstream psychology is insufficient. Macro cultural-psychology requires audacious, impertinent, critical, passionate thinking that does not shy from controversial, unpopular, radical, heretical ideas. These are attributes which generate all revolutionary scientific advances. They are sorely needed if psychological science, therapy, and social reform are to understand and enhance human psychology.

This book is a synthesis and extension of my earlier work into a systemic approach. It articulates a richer, more adequate definition of culture, a deeper integration of psychology and macro factors, and detailed principles of this relationship. This book goes beyond my earlier works in  emphasizing the political dimension of psychology, applying cultural psychology to social reform and personal growth, outlining a philosophy of science and a social philosophy for macro cultural psychology, and comparing macro cultural- psychology with individualism, subjectivism, naturalism, and positivism.

This book is unique in discussing a wealth of psychological phenomena (emotions, sexuality, aggression, eating disorders, terrorism, adolescence, cognition, memory, perception, learning, self-personality, religion, mental illness, developmental processes, defense mechanisms, and language), psychological theories (mainstream psychology, evolutionary psychology, cultural psychology, cross-cultural psychology, psycho-biology, Vygotsky's cultural-historical psychology, activity theory, Piaget's theory of cognitive stages, and Freudiain psychoanalysis), social theories (functionalism, structuralism, feminism, Marxism, the Annales school of historiography, Dilthey's Verstehen and hermeneutics, Boasian anthropological theory, the Frankfurt school, micro sociology), and philosophies of science (postmodernism, social constructionism, dialectics, critical realism, positivism, naturalism, subjectivism).

The diverse issues that this book addresses will be useful to psychologists, educators, historians, sociologists, anthropologists, philosophers, and others interested in social theory, culture, psychology, and the individual. Another audience will be policy makers and practitioners in public health and social service. The increasing numbers of citizens concerned with social reform should find this book helpful in understanding the reasons for social-psychological problems, and for identifying directions which effective social activism can take.

I have written this book in a straightforward, jargon-free style that is accessible to the educated layperson and students in social science, social policy, and philosophy. It would serve very well as a supplemental text in many areas within psychology, in social science theory and methodology, cultural studies, social policy, social philosophy, philosophy of science, and biological aspects of human psychology.