Culture: Result and Condition of Action

Ernest E. Boesch

in The Oxford Handbook of Culture and Psychology

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780195396430
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

Culture: Result and Condition of Action


How to use human potentials constructively will be a major problem for a science of culture. This chapter covers the key issues that follow from its author's Symbolic Action Theory. That theory (which has been developed since the 1960s) has been rooted in the work of Jean Piaget, whose constructivism has opened my eyes for human creativity; Pierre Janet, whose theory of feelings started me on action theory; Sigmund Freud, whose use of free association became an important method for the study of symbols; Gaston Bachelard, with his books on the symbolism of the house, the Earth, the air, and fire; Claude Lévi-Strauss, by his studies of South American Indian myths; Raymond Firth, whose work on symbols was a great help; and the anthropologists Mary Douglas and Victor Turner, who contributed importantly to the symbolic side of the theory. Gaining multiple insights into traditional Thai customs provided the cultural contrast for the development of the holistic theory.

Keywords: culture; self; action

Article.  7466 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Social Psychology

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