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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.


Table of Contents



Chapter One. Shortcomings of Positivistic Methodology for
  Researching Cultural Psychology
    Fragmentation    (atomism)
         Fragmented stimuli and responses
         Reducing qualitative differences to quantitative
        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
     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
          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?
    Generalizing Findings
    Causal Explanation
        Naturalistic  strategies
             Explanation by resemblance
             Naturalistic  experimentation
        Controlled experimentation

Chapter Six. Sociopolitical Underpinnings of Positivism and Qualitative
  Cultural Psychological Methodology



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