CULTURAL AND CRITICAL PERSPECTIVES ON HUMAN DEVELOPMENT

Martin J. Packer,

Mark B. Tappan, editors

State University of New York Press, 2001

 

'An array of exciting new studies of child and adolescent development phenomena.'

Unique in its attention to both cultural and critical perspectives, this book contributes strongly to the advance of developmental psychology beyond the cognitive-developmental paradigm that has defined the field for the past quarter century. It provides insight from critical pedagogy, cultural psychology, feminism, postmodernism, critical theory, and semiotics and offers new perspectives into the lived experiences of children, adolescents, and adults in the contemporary world.

Martin J. Packer is Associate Professor of Psychology at Duquesne University, and the coeditor of Entering the Circle: Hermeneutic Investigation in Psychology, also published by SUNY Press. Mark B. Tappan is Associate Professor and Chair of the Education and Human Development Program at Colby College, and the coeditor (with Martin J. Packer) of Narrative and Storytelling: Implications for Understanding Moral Development.

November 2001 / 352 pages

$26.95 paperback ISBN 0-7914-5180-1
$78.50 hardcover ISBN 0-7914-5179-8

The terms in which psychologists understand human development have been changing rapidly in recent years. No longer is it assumed without question that development is solely a process of cognitive reorganization, directed towards a single, universal endpoint, and accomplished within the individual child. New attention to culture and to critique has brought new voices into academic psychology and begun to transform its institutions: journals; programs; faculty. This volume makes a timely contribution, unique in its attention to both cultural and critical perspectives, and will capture attention from a wide readership. Its origins were two linked symposia presented at the annual meetings of the American Educational Research Association. The editors sought to bring together people "doing cultural work" and those "doing critique," in the hope that some cross-pollination (if that is the apt metaphor) would occur. In many respects our expectations were exceeded. These sessions overflowed the room they were held in, with an engaged and enthusiastic audience.

The chapters in this volume are based on those papers, together with some additional invited contributions. They explore implications for developmental psychology of an awareness of culture and the adoption of a critical stance. They bring insights from critical pedagogy, cultural psychology, feminism, postmodernism, critical theory, semiotics and other approaches into dialogue, presenting studies of developmental change at various points across the lifespan, and offering reflections on the changing character of inquiry. They illustrate disparate ways in which the complexities of human development can be grasped and comprehended, while avoiding the reductionisms of cognitivism. They contribute strongly to the advance of developmental psychology beyond the cognitive-developmental paradigm that has defined the field for the past quarter century. They present an array of exciting studies of developmental phenomena.

cul_ture 1 : CULTIVATION, TILLAGE 2 : the act of developing the intellectual and moral faculties esp. by education 3 : expert care and training <beauty ~> 4 : enlightenment and excellence of taste acquired by intellectual and aesthetic training 5 a : a particular stage of advancement in civilization b : the characteristic features of such a stage or state c : behavior typical of a group or class 6 : cultivation of living material in prepared nutrient media; also a product of such cultivation. (Webster’s Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary) cri.tique : an act of criticizing; esp : a critical estimate or discussion 

crit.i.cism 1 a : the act or criticizing usu. unfavorably b : a critical observation or remark c : CRITIQUE 2 : the art of evaluating or analyzing with knowledge and propriety works of art or literature 3 : the scientific investigation of literary documents (as the Bible) in regard to such matters as origin, text, composition, character, or history. (Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary)

"every theory of criticism is implicitly a theory of culture" (Gunn, 1987, p. 5)

Mediational means: the arrangements of artifacts, practices and events that make up an intentional world Seeks to disclose how culture provides conditions for a possible way of life;

by uncovering the conditions for the possibility of a particular form of life; articulating the context this culture provides for a specific way of living.

The play of power, as a place and process of division, exclusion and domination Diagnosing the operation of power and its consequent exploitations and coercions, and seeking to undo their effects.

"to empower the powerless and transform existing social inequalities and injustices" (McLaren, 1995, p. 168).

Concerned with the dynamics, contradictions, and asymmetries of power and privilege in human experience.

The semiotic forms of messages and texts in human communication Aims to read critically, to disclose the operation of subtexts; the appraisal of the ideology of these forms, and the effort to diagnose their latent operation, the hidden interests at work in messages and texts; analysis of cultural forms and the ways they are produced and received in social interaction and human relationship. In general can be subsumed within a hermeneutic logic of inquiry, and entails a "depth hermeneutics," a "hermeneutics of suspicion"

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Introduction

Martin J. Packer & Mark B. Tappan

                            I. Culture as the Ground for a Form of Life

Chapter 2 A Utopian Methodology as a Tool for Cultural and Critical Psychologies:  Toward a Positive Critical Theory

Katherine Brown & Michael Cole

Chapter 3 The Return of the "White Man’s Burden": The Encounter Between the Moral Discourse of Anthropology and the Domestic Life of Oriya Women.

Usha Menon & Richard A. Shweder

Chapter 4 Changing Classes: Shifting the Trajectory of Development in School

Martin J. Packer

                             II. Culture as the Operation of Power

Chapter 5 Critical Inquiry and Children in Day Care

Robin L. Leavitt

Chapter 6 Engendering Subjects: A Foucauldian Analysis of Developmental Gender Differences

Elizabeth Debold

                          III. Culture as the Circulation of Semiotic Forms

Chapter 7 Exploring the Felt Pathways of the Self:  From Experience to Meaning-Making in Children, K-5

Linda J. Rogers

Chapter 8 Adolescent girls, Class, and the Cultures of Femininity

Lyn Mikel Brown

Chapter 9 The Cultural Reproduction of Masculinity: A Critical Perspective on Boys’ Development

Mark B. Tappan

Chapter 10 "Dead Poets Society": Deconstructing Surveillance Pedagogy

Peter McLaren & Zeus Leonardo