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Reification of Culture in Indigenous Psychologies: Merit or Mistake?

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Professor Allwood (2011, “On the foundation of the indigenous psychologies”, Social Epistemology 25 (1): 3-14) challenges indigenous psychologists by describing their definition of culture as a rather abstract and delimited entity that is too “essentialized” and “reified”, as well as “somewhat old-fashioned” and “too much influenced by early social anthropological writings” (p. 5). In this article, I make a distinction between the scientific microworld and the lifeworld and argue that it is necessary for social scientists to construct scientific microworlds of theories for the sake of pushing forward the progress of any field in the social sciences. Allwood and J. W. Berry (2006, “Origins and development of indigenous psychologies: An international analysis”, International Journal of Psychology 41 (4): 243-68) also recognized that western mainstream psychology is a kind of indigenous psychology. Therefore, theoretical construction in western psychology also implies a reification of culture. My central question is, then: why is the reification of the western culture of individualism a merit for the progress of psychology, and why the reification of non-western cultures by indigenous psychologists a mistake?

Keywords: Culture; Indigenous Psychologies; Lifeworld; Reification; Scientific Microworld

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2011-04-01

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