This book is an attempt to answer two questions: “Why do psychologists find it so difficult to keep culture in mind?” and “If you are a psychologist who believes that culture is a fundamental constituent of human thought and action, what can you do that is scientifically acceptable?” The answer to the first question involves an excursion into the history of psychology, exploring the way in which experimental science became divorced from the historical sciences. In addressing the second question, Michael Cole builds upon the “cultural-historical” school of Russian psychology and advocates a methodology based upon field studies. In an increasingly diverse society, the neglect of cultural differences or their banishment as “extraneous variables” should be troubling to psychologists, and Cole’s prescriptions for a new “cultural psychology” are most welcome. Culture is back in psychology. Michael Cole, one of the most significant contributors to this movement, gives a thoughtful synthesis of his three decades of theoretical and empirical research in this book. Though mild-mannered in his writing, Cole’s proposal amounts to nothing less than a radical restructuring of the entire discipline of psychology as a scientific enterprise. Whether one agrees with him or not, anyone interested in the culture–mind relation should read it cover to cover. In fact, any psychologist, basic or applied, will be richly rewarded by a close reading of it…Cole’s cultural psychology is an impressive achievement with a promising future.
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