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This book is part of a project to understand the cultural aspects of human psychology. The academic discipline devoted to this subject is called cultural psychology. The field of cultural psychology draws together research from cross-cultural psychology, psychological anthropology, history, sociology, and economics.
To become a scientific discipline, cultural psychology requires a sound theoretical perspective and a rigorous methodology. In a previous work I explained a conceptual foundation for cultural psychology. I used Vygotsky's sociohistori cal psychology as the core of this conceptual foundation. Entitled Vygotsky's Sociohistorical Psychology and its Contemporary Applications, the book presented contemporary research in psychology, anthropology, history, sociology, and bio logy which substantiated Vygotsky's sociohistorical conception of human psychology. In the course of reviewing this research, I found that certain kinds of studies illuminated psychology's cultural character more than others.
Extensive descriptions of complex behaviors in meaningful situations were more informative than studies which employed standardized, quantitative measures of simple, overt responses. At the same time, the reader of "qualitative" stu dies can't help asking "how did they arrive at their interesting conclusions about cultural psychology?" "How can I know if these conclusions are valid?" Little information is provided about the methodology that was used; indepen dent verification is generally lacking; and the reader has no way to evaluate the trustworthiness of the data and conclusions.
lt. became obvious to me that qualitative methods need to be systematized in order to be useful to cultural psychology. The present book attempts to meet this need. Certain humanistic psychologists and philosophers, humanistically oriented sociologists, and researchers in education have devised principles and procedures for analyzing the psychological significance of subjective reports (intervi ews, letters, diaries). While these methods are useful as far as they go, they remain rudimentary. Moreover, humanistic researchers have primarily used qualitative methods to study personal experience ("I felt such and such," or "I intended such and such"). They have generally ignored the manner in which emotions, self concept, perception, and psychological dysf unction embody cultural values.
If these qualitative methods could be developed and reoriented toward elucidating cultural aspects of psychology, the result would be a very useful qualitative cultural psychological methodology. Developing qualitative cultural psychological methodology is the task of this book. It involves reviewing existing qualitative methods, systematizing them around core epistemological and ontological principles, informing them with a theory of cultural psychology which will guide them to elucidate cultural aspects of psychology, and enhancing their scientific status - i.e., their comprehensiveness, objectivity, validity, ability to detect general tendencies and causal relationships.
Preface Introduction Chapter One. Shortcomings of Positivistic Methodology for Researching Cultural Psychology Fragmentation (atomism) Variables Fragmented stimuli and responses Quantification Reducing qualitative differences to quantitative differences Quantifying behavior Statistical calculations and tests of significance Operational Definitions Attitude questionnaires Content analysis Positivistic Validity Chapter Two. Principles of Qualitative Methodology for Psychology The Nature of Psychological Phenomena Psychological phenomena are complex configurations of multiple components Complex psychological phenomena are expressed through extended responses Psychological phenomena are mental and have no fixed behavioral expressions Methodological Principles Interpret behavior Interpret verbal statements Identify situations in which phenomena occur and do not occur Ascertain the quality of a psychological phenomenon through it relationships with other phenomena Employ all qualitative research principles in concert Subordinate positivistic methods to qualitative methods Chapter Three. The Cultural Character Of Psychology The Importance of Practical Social Activity for Psychological Phenomena The Concrete Social Character of Psychological Phenomena The Dialectical Relationship between Activity and Psychology Chapter Four. Qualitative Methodology for Describing The Cultural Character of Psychology General Principles Qualitative Cultural Psychological Methodology Reorient qualitative methods to consider culture Interpret statements Compare diverse modes of responding Identify situations in which phenomena occur and do not occur Develop social relationships which are conducive to psychological expression Ascertain the cultural quality of each psychological phenomenon through its interrelationships with other phenomena Utilize qualitative cultural psychological methodology before quantifying psychological phenomena Ascertain the cultural character of psychological phenomena by employing the foregoing principles in concert Rectify research which fails to employ the principles of qualitative cultural psychological methodology Chapter Five. Qualitative Cultural Psychological Methodology and Science Is Qualitative Cultural Psychological Methodology Scientific? Objectivity Validity Generalizing Findings Causal Explanation Naturalistic strategies Explanation by resemblance Naturalistic experimentation Controlled experimentation Chapter Six. Sociopolitical Underpinnings of Positivism and Qualitative Cultural Psychological Methodology Notes References
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