Social Science in Development: The Indigenous Psychologies and the Concept of Culture

Monday, July 14, 2014: 3:30 PM
Room: Booth 44
Oral Presentation
Carl Martin ALLWOOD , university of gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden
The so-called indigenous psychologies are currently a lively reaction to mainstream psychology, mostly in Non-western countries (Allwood & Berry 2006). Their origins can to a large extent be seen as a post-colonial reaction that became clearly visible after the independence of many Non-western countries after World War II. What they react to is basically what is seen as the culture basis of mainstream psychology and their aim is to develop a psychological science that is based on the cultural features characteristic of their own society. The indigenous psychologies aim to be pragmatically relevant to their domestic society and to be rooted in the culture of their own society. In this presentation I will review some recent debates in English written literature on the indigenous psychologies on the consequences of being rooted in the culture of one’s own society in a way that makes one’s research applicable to one’s own society in the sense that it can help solve societal problems. The first theme to be discussed is the idea held by some researchers in the indigenous psychologies of letting the social organization of the specific local indigenous society be designed according to principles derived from the indigenous researchers’ conceptions of their own culture. This theme hooks in to the second theme that relates to the type of culture concept most useful given the goals and assumptions of the indigenous psychologies. Here the question of whether an empirical oriented culture concept or a more traditional culture concept held by many researchers in the indigenous psychologies that argue for a more collective clustered and abstract culture concept is best suited for the indigenous psychologies will be dealt with. Consequences and tentative conclusions from these debates with respect to the universality of research in psychology and research in general will be drawn.