Culture as patterns: An alternative approach to the problem of reification

  • Adams G
  • Markus H
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To challenge the treatment of culture and self as reified entities, Hermans (2001) proposes a model of both culture and self as a multiplicity of dialogical positions. We question whether this model fully responds to his challenge. First, the notion of positioning itself appears to reify culture by treating flowing patterns as fixed locations. Second, the notion of dialogue appears to neglect the possibility of automatic influence from implicit cultural patterns. This implies a core, universal self whose functioning is insensitive to cultural variation. We suggest an alternative approach to the problem of reification: to conceive of culture not as group, but as patterns. Corresponding to this shift, we propose a distinction between the negotiation of cultural identity and the cultural grounding of self. As a model of identity negotiation, Hermans’ dialogical self makes important contributions: it emphasizes the multiplicity of identity, highlights the agency of the self as a constructor of identity, and suggests the importance of psychology—and the study of self, in particular— for the study of culture.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Conception
  • Culture
  • Entity
  • Identity
  • Patterns
  • Reification
  • Self

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