Culture as a Resource in the Creation of Meaning
Chapters 7 and 8 are concerned with the role played by culture in the construction of identity and the creation of meaning. They are based on my doctoral research, which was set in the context of therapy; but has considerably wider application. The approach taken is phenomenological, psychoanalytic and social constructionist; and it has been greatly influenced by Foulksian Group Analysis, and recent work in the field of psychosocial studies.
In my thesis, I sought to understand the operation of human processes around dimensions of an entity called culture, which seemed virtually impossible to define. However, when viewed in a more general, metacultural way, it became possible to make greater sense of it. Three central ideas emerged from the analysis, which were cultural identity, personal culture and culture as a resource. I will describe these ideas, together with the findings of the study and, in the second part, will then extend them into wider areas of human activity. I will use several examples, the main one of which is the insight provided into the topical area of radicalisation. I conclude that the approach and the ideas developed have considerable potential in helping to understand a world that is increasingly connected, but deeply divided, and in making sense of the lives of the individuals that inhabit it.