Another book, another comment

Ok, so now I’m reading Michael Cole’s 1996 publication “Cultural Psychology” (Belknap Press of Harvard University Press; Cambridge, Mass), which seems to me an eminently sensible articulation of the main themes and premises of Cultural Psychology. I’ve spent much of yesterday and today underlining and sticky noting its pages. He refers, amongst others, to Bruner, Rogoff, Shweder, Bronfenbrenner, Lave and Wenger, and Engestrom’s Activity Theory. I don’t like the diagram used by Engestrom – somehow it seems too bounded, but I am starting to see where it might be useful, as it refers to artifacts, scripts and schemas, and all of a sudden some obscure terms are becoming more clear to me now. It is beautifully, neatly written.

I’ve been also reading some Carl Ratner, whose book “Cultural Psychology”  (2006, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates; London) is misnamed. He is actually positing a theory called Macro Cultural Psychology. And he is fervently “critically realist” in his epistemological position, which is different to social constructivism. He is clearly opposed to social constructivism, which he claims does not allow for hegemonic primacy and discussions thereof. He claims that social constructivism “precludes criticizing any paradigm because it rejects any objective world or standard beyond the paradigm itself that could be used to assess it” (p. 227). He claims too, that social constructivism is “a kind of cultism” (p. 226). I think he misses the point somewhat, but then, he has taken a critical realist perspective, which he has underpinned with a political and reform agenda. So, I now understand why Rogoff, Bruner and others do not refer to his writings at all – they are diametrically opposed, despite using the same term.

This is a bit of a revelation.


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