Cultural Psychology: A Perspective on Psychological Functioning and Social Reform

Cultural Psychology: A Perspective on Psychological Functioning and Social Reform

Cultural Psychology: A Perspective on Psychological Functioning and Social Reform

Cultural Psychology: A Perspective on Psychological Functioning and Social Reform


Carl Ratner's new book deepens our understanding of psychology by emphasizing the role that cultural factors, such as social institutions, artifacts, and cultural concepts play in psychological functioning. The author demonstrates the impact of culture on stimulating and structuring emotion, personality, perception, cognition, memory, sexuality, and mental illness. Examples from interdisciplinary social science research illuminate a sophisticated dialectical relationship between cultural factors and psychological phenomena.

Written in an engaging style, the book articulates a new theory, "macro cultural psychology", and a qualitative methodology for investigating the cultural origins, characteristics, and functions of psychological phenomena. Ratner explains how this cultural perspective can be used to enhance psychological growth, illuminate directions for social reform, and how social reform can enhance psychological functioning, and vice versa.

Cultural Psychology
critically examines several prominent psychological approaches including social constructionism, feminism, hermeneutics, psychobiology, evolutionary, cross-cultural, ecological, and mainstream psychology. The book articulates a theory of macro culture that emphasizes the political dimension of culture and psychology.

Intended for students, researchers, and practitioners in psychology, education, psychotherapy, history, sociology, anthropology, linguistics, philosophy, and policy makers and practitioners in public health and social service who are interested in understanding cultural aspects of psychology. The book is an appropriate text for courses in cross-cultural or community psychology, social work, social theory, and critical thinking.


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 psy-

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