Becoming an Ethnic Subject. Cultural-Psychological Theory of Ethnic Identification
This paper offers an alternative theoretical consideration of ethnic identification in psychology. Mainstream social psychological theories are largely positivist and individualistic. New possibilities of theoretical understanding open up as the relational and symbolic nature of ethnicity enters psychological inquiry. This paper takes culture and self as two conceptual domains of social identification, following a meta-theoretical position of cultural psychology. The central focus is the cultural development of the person in social context of a given culture, specifically their ethnic identification, to which end, it looks at several processual aspects. First, ethnic culture is approached as a guiding principle and practice in everyday understanding and experience of one’s own ethnicity. Second, ethnic identification is considered a social and personal act of meaning making, which happens in a given social context, through practical activity and the discursive positioning of a person. Third, since rather than considered a conscious aspect of belonging, ethnicity is assumed and taken for granted, ruptures are considered as destabilizing events that create an opportunity for ethnic meaning reinterpretation and developmental transition. In the meaning making process, symbolic resources are conceived of as primary self-configuring tools, which are also cultureconfiguring. Ethnic meaning making is theorized as a central socialpsychological process through which ethnic culture and a person as an ethnic subject emerge in historical perspective. Finally, the uniqueness of a singular person in the shared ethnic culture is conceptualized based on symbolic distancing from the immediate social context, through the model of knitting personal and socio-historical semiotic threads.
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