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Eckensberger, Lutz H.:

Integrating the emic (indigenous) with the etic (universal)
A case of squaring the circle or for adopting a culture inclusive action theory perspective

In: Journal for the Theory of Social Behavior, 45 (2015) 1 , 108-140


3a. Beiträge in begutachteten Zeitschriften; Beitrag in Sonderheft

Diskurs, Entwicklungspsychologie, Erkenntnistheorie, Ethik, Handlungstheorie, Individuum, Interkulturelle Psychologie, Kultur, Kulturpsychologie, Methode, Psychologie, Psychologische Forschung, Qualität, Theorie, Wissenschaftstheorie

The dualism of emic and etic plays a crucial role in the emergence of three culturally informed approaches of psychology: cross-cultural psychology (CCP), cultural psychology (CP) and indigenous psychologies (IPs), a distinction largely accepted nowadays. Similarities and/or differences between these positions are usually discussed either on the level of phenomena (data) or theory. In this paper, however, the discussion takes place on a meta-theoretical or epistemological level, which is also emerging elsewhere. In following several earlier papers of the author, first, four perspectives are distinguished that underlie present day psychology. Second, these are used as a framework for linking them to the three ""camps"". This analysis will show that these perspectives are characterized by different underlying worldviews, interests as well as methodical preferences. Third, it is claimed that this level of discussion is quite fruitful for the ongoing discourse on the three camps, but also helps one to understand, why the duality between emic and etic approaches is - implicitly or explicitly - at the core of these discussions, because their relevance turns out to differ in the three camps. In that sense, the emic/etic duality is used here as a ""litmus test"" to exemplify these deeper differences between the camps, thereby highlighting them. Fourth, in order to overcome not only the dilemma between the unique and general in psychology, but also to clarify the relation between the individual and culture it is proposed that psychology should take human action as its unit of analysis, thereby connecting historically to the early beginnings of psychology at the end of the 19th century. It will be argued that a culture inclusive action theory may overcome this tension and may help to integrate western and other indigenous psychologies, and hence it could be advantageous to integrate CP and IPs as well. This is possible because the proposed theory hopefully provides a universal framework for psychological concepts, yet allows for their culture specific expression. (DIPF/Orig.)

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