Cultural psychology and social construction theory
Pages 4

Neither have the problems inherent to psychological anthropology been solved by the creation of the new sub-disciplinary domain of ‘cultural psychology’. Here the intention is to acknowledge the validity of other people’s understandings of the world and themselves and to use these understandings as the basis for analysis. Even so, and despite a good deal of fascinating ethnography that suggests otherwize, Descartes’s emphasis on conscious thought as the existential ground of knowledge by and large continues to be taken for granted by cultural psychologists. In Stigler, Shweder and Herdt’s (1990) edited collection, this emphasis is evinced in the very titles of the papers, for example, ‘culture and moral development’ (Shweder, Mahapatra and Miller), ‘the socialization of cognition’ (Goodnow), and ‘the relations between culture and human cognition’ (D’Andrade). And this despite the fact that, in an introductory essay, Shweder claims ‘cultural psychology’ to be distinct from ‘psychological anthropology’:

Cultural psychology is the study of intentional worlds. It is the study of personal functioning in particular intentional worlds. It is the study of the interpersonal maintenance of any intentional world. It is the investigation of those psychosomatic, sociocultural and, inevitably, divergent realities in which subject and object cannot possibly be separated and kept apart because they are so interdependent as to need each other to be.