On The Place Of Culture In Psychological Science

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International Journal Of Psychology


Based on a positivist-empiricist mode of inquiry, mainstream psychology has been vigorously engaged in characterizing human lives in terms of mechanistic and individualistic constructions, with the aim of predicting and controlling the behaviour of acultural and decontextualized others. Committed to a belief in psychological universals, this enterprise is directed at verifying a peculiarly Western intelligibility. In doing so, it ignores the possibilities of other systems of understanding grounded in different cultures and “culture” remains marginalized in the psychological discourse. Viewed in terms of enablements and constraints, differing cultures may contribute a range of psychological intelligibilities, thus enriching the capacities for human relationship. This position is explored by contrasting an Indian with a Western conception of human functioning, with respect to grounding assumptions, and implications of a culturally informed psychology are discussed.