Cultural Contingencies: Behavior Analytic Perspectives on Cultural Practices

Cultural Contingencies: Behavior Analytic Perspectives on Cultural Practices

Cultural Contingencies: Behavior Analytic Perspectives on Cultural Practices

Cultural Contingencies: Behavior Analytic Perspectives on Cultural Practices

Synopsis

In recent years, a number of books devoted to a behavior analytic approach to cultural practices have appeared, and this book falls within that domain. At the same time, however, this book is unique in that it minimizes the space devoted to abstract discussion of behavior analytic concepts and principles. Instead, the authors focus exclusively upon particular cultural practices, which are disparate and drawn from three countries, ranging from public health practices to historical utopian communities to various practices of visual artists, art dealers, and gallery owners. In addition, cultural practices regarding women and the changing Japanese society's effect on Japanese women's behavior are considered. Changes in policies aimed at increasing the birth rate in Quebec are analyzed in behavior analytic terms. The wide range of cultural practices addressed by this book are given coherence by the fact that all are addressed by the various authors in terms of behavior analytic concepts and principles. This book,is further confirmation of the fact, unappreciated by some, that a behavior analytic approach can address practices that consist of the behaviors of large numbers of people. The authors demonstrate that the behavior analytic approach is not culture-bound. Rather, they show that behavior analytic concepts and principles can illuminate human practices in any culture.

Excerpt

The 1990s have seen renewed interest in a behavior analytic approach to societies and cultural practices. Books on the subject have been published and a number of relevant articles have appeared. Convention presentations have been devoted to the topic. the behavioral analysis of cultural practices continues to mature and evolve. This book is a contribution to the ongoing development of this area.

This book eschews chapters devoted to consideration of behavior analytic concepts and principles in the abstract; many other books and articles already provide the reader with excellent outlines and explanations of those concepts and principles. in contrast, the contents of this book are wholly devoted to consideration of particular cultural practices, across three countries. the first four chapters are concerned with cultural practices having to do with individual and public health, Chapters 7-9 are concerned with contingencies that affect families. Other chapters (5, 6, 10, 11, and 12) address a variety of cultural practices. At first glance it may appear that the reader is presented with a potpourri, but that is not, in a fundamental sense, true. What gives these diverse chapters coherence is their shared foundation in a behavior analytic approach to the description and interpretation of cultural practices.

I thank Paul Foos, Chairman of the Psychology Department of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, for his support; I also thank the department's staff. Special thanks goes to George Windholz for help with indexing.

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