Becoming an Ethnic Subject. Cultural-Psychological Theory of Ethnic Identification

Authors

  • Ana Đorđević Research Assistant, Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory, University of Belgrade

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.2298/FID2103460D

Abstract

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 culture[1]configuring. Ethnic meaning making is theorized as a central social[1]psychological 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.

References

Miettinen, Raija-Leena Punamäki (eds.), Perspectives on Activity Theory, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 1–13.

Geertz, Clifford (1993), Local Knowledge: Future Essays in Interpretive Anthropology, 2nd Edition, London: Fontana Press.

Gillespie, Alex; Zittoun, Tania (2010), “Studying the Movement of Thought”, in Aaro Toomela, Jaan Valsiner (eds.), Methodological Thinking in Psychology: 60 Years Gone Astray?, Charlotte: Information Age Publisher, pp. 69–88.

Harré, Rom (1979), Social Being: A Theory for Social Psychology, Oxford: Basil Blackwell.

—. (1998), “The Epistemology of Social Representations”, in Uwe Flick (ed.), The Psychology of the Social, Cambridge University Press, pp. 129–137.

Haug, Frigga; Andresen, Sünne; Bünz-Elfferding, Anke; Hauser, Kornelia; Lang, Ursel, Laudan, Marion; et al. (1999), Female Sexualization, 2nd Edition, Carter, Erika (transl.), London: Verso Books.

Hermans, Hubert J. M. (2001), “Conceptions of Self and Identity: Toward a Dialogical View”, International Journal of Education and Religion 2: 43–62.

Hermans, Hubert J. M.; Kempen, Harry J. G.; van Loon, Rens (1992), “The Dialogical Self: Beyond Individualism and Rationalism”, American Psychologist 47: 23–33.

Holland, Dorothy; Lachicotte, William S.; Skinner, Debra; Cain, Carole (1998), Identity and Agency in Cultural Worlds, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Israel, Joachim; Tajfel, Henri (1972), The Context of Social Psychology, London: Academic Press.

James, William (1890), The Principles of Psychology, New York: Holt.

Jovanović, Gordana (2019), “Wundt’s Forgotten Legacy and Epistemological Foundations of Critical Psychology”, in Kyoko Murakami, James Cresswell, Tetsua Kono, Tania Zittoun (eds.), The Ethos of Theorizing, Canada: Captus University Publications, pp. 96–105.

Kroeber, Alfred Louis; Kluckhohn, Clyde (1952), Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions, New York: Random House.

Mead, George Herbert (1934), Mind, Self and Society, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Moscovici, Serge (2001), Social Representations: Explorations in Social Psychology, New York: New York University Press.

Nelson, Katherine (2003), “Narrative and Self, Myth and Memory: Emergence of the Cultural Self”, in Robyn Fivush, Catherine Haden (eds.), Autobiographical Memory and the Construction of a Narrative Self: Developmental and Cultural Perspectives, New Jersey, London: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, pp. 3–28.

Phinney, Jean S. (1993), “A Three-stage Model of Ethnic Identity Development in Adolescence”, in Martha E. Bernal, George P. Knight (eds.), Ethnic Identity: Formation and Transmission among Hispanics and Other Minorities, New York: State University of New York Press, pp. 61–79.

Ratner, Carl (1999), “Three Approaches to Cultural Psychology – A Critique”, Cultural Dynamics 11: 7–31.

Reicher, Stephen; Hopkins, Nick (2001), Self and Nation, London: Sage Publications.

Rogoff, Barbara (2003), The Cultural Nature of Human Development, New York: Oxford University Press. Shweder, Richard (1991), Thinking through Cultures, Harvard: Harvard University Press.

Tajfel, Henri (1974), “Social Identity and Intergroup Behavior”, Social Science Information 13: 65–93.

Taylor, Charles (1985), Philosophy and the Human Sciences: Philosophical Papers, Vol. 2, New York: Cambridge University Press.

Vagan, Andre (2011), “Towards a Sociocultural Perspective on Identity Formation in Education”, Mind, Culture, and Activity 18: 43–57.

Valsiner, Jaan (1998), The Guided Mind. A Sociogenetic Approach to Personality, Cambridge, MA/London: Harvard University Press.

—. (2007), Cultures in Minds and Societies, Los Angeles, London: Sage.

—. (2009), “Cultural Psychology Today: Innovations and Oversights”, Culture & Psychology 15: 5–39.

—. (2012), “Introduction: Culture in Psychology: A Renewed Encounter of Inquisitive Minds”, in Jaan Valsiner (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Culture and Psychology, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 3–16.

Valsiner, Jaan; Branco, Angela Uchoa; Dantas, Claudia M. (1997), “Co-construction of Human Development: Heterogeneity within Parental Belief Orientations”, in Joan E. Grusec, Leon Kuczynski (eds.), Parenting and Children’s Internalization of Values: A Handbook of Contemporary Theory, New York: New York Wiley, pp. 283–304.

Vygotsky, Lev Semyonovich (1962), Thought and Language, Cambridge MA: MIT Press.

—. (1997), The Collected Works of L. S. Vygotsky: The History of the Development of Higher Mental Functions, Vol. 4, Springer Science & Business Media.

Wertsch, James V. (1985), Vygotsky and the Social Formation of Mind, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

—. (1993), Voices of the Mind: A Sociocultural Approach to Mediated Action, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

—. (2007), “Mediation”, in Harry Daniels, Michael Cole, James V. Wertsch (eds.), The Cambridge Companion to Vygotsky, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 178–192.

Wetherell, Margaret (2008), “Subjectivity or Psycho-discursive Practices? Investigating Complex Intersectional Identities”, Subjectivity 22: 73–81.

Wittgenstein, Ludwig (1958), Philosophical Investigations, Oxford: Basil Blackwell.

Wortham, Stanton (2001), Narratives in Action. A Strategy for Research and Analysis, New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

Zittoun, Tania (2006), Transitions. Development through Symbolic Resources, Greenwich: InfoAge.

—. (2012), “On the Emergence of the Subject”, Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science 46: 259–273.

Zittoun, Tania; Duveen, Gerard; Gillespie, Alex; Ivinson, Gabriele; Psaltis, Charis (2003), “The Use of Symbolic Resources in Developmental Transitions”, Culture & Psychology 9: 415–448.

Published

2021-09-30

How to Cite

Đorđević, A. (2021) “Becoming an Ethnic Subject. Cultural-Psychological Theory of Ethnic Identification”, Filozofija i društvo/Philosophy and Society. Belgrade, Serbia, 32(3), pp. 460–478. doi: 10.2298/FID2103460D.