Volume 3 · Number 1 · Pages 38–51
Constructivism, Culture, and Cognitive Development: What Kind of Schemes for a Cultural Psychologist?

Bertrand Troadec

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Abstract

Purpose: My first purpose is to present an epistemological and ideological analysis of various conceptions of the mind–culture relationship and to state why it is fruitless to set them against each other. My second purpose is to answer the following two questions within the framework of cultural cognitive development: (1) How do I understand and explain the interaction between two cultural actors, one of whom is myself? (2) How do I model cultural intersubjectivity? Addressing these two aims, I want to make the nature of observer participation explicit to myself, then to the reader. Design: I describe the personal schemes I use in my cross-cultural research. After defining and comparing different conceptual and methodological instruments, I go on to argue in favor of an experimental methodological approach based on a naturalistic constructivist epistemological framework. Findings: Among the potential ontological and epistemological conceptions related to the human mind, I consciously argue for a naturalistic ontology and a constructivist epistemology. In line with this philosophical view, the knowledge on the cognitive development of children pertaining to different cultures appears as my personal scheme’s production. Such production is a permanent object of debate in the scientific community and in the wider community of studied subjects. Original value: The ideas and concepts developed in the present paper are neither new nor innovative. I relate the conceptual shift from a positivist to a radical constructivist epistemology that was necessary in order for me to be able to study the relationship between culture and children’s cognitive development. Implications: While the present discussion may not be innovative from a radical constructivist point of view, it is so from the point of view of mainstream developmental psychology.

Key words: cross-cultural psychology, cultural psychology, epistemology, ideology, theory, methodology, radical constructivism

Citation

Troadec B. (2007) Constructivism, culture, and cognitive development: What kind of schemes for a cultural psychologist? Constructivist Foundations 3(1): 38–51. http://constructivist.info/3/1/038

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