Research Topic

Culture, Self, and Autonomy

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We welcome papers that examine the issues of culture, self and its construction, and psychological autonomy.

The main problem we would like to address is the dialectical relations between cultures and people’s ability toward autonomous agency and self-determination. The dilemma here is the ...

We welcome papers that examine the issues of culture, self and its construction, and psychological autonomy.

The main problem we would like to address is the dialectical relations between cultures and people’s ability toward autonomous agency and self-determination. The dilemma here is the following: either people are cultural beings and are determined and guided by cultural norms and prescriptions; or, humans are autonomous agents that can go against cultural prescriptions, change the existent or even create new ones. If we accept that humans are both cultural beings and are capable of autonomy and self-determination, then the question remains as to how cultural prescriptions and person’s autonomy coexist and interact with each other. Ultimately, this concern comes to the fundamental problem of structure and agency, but with an inclination to address it at the psychological level. The notion of the self, defined as a system that includes such processes as self-determination, self-regulation, and self-direction, stands at the center of research on psychological autonomy and human agency. That is why we want potential authors to highlight the importance of examining the human self and its co-construction in different sociocultural environments, and welcome works that test existing and propose new theoretical and methodological frameworks based on culture-specific and/or comparative findings.

We would also like to place at the center of our investigation the theory of cultural models as described by Quinn, Strauss, Shore, and D’Andrade. Cultural models are responsible for shaping people’s selves, and prescribing the forms of perceiving of and acting in the world. Cultural models for human motivation and especially for their autonomous actions are of special interest for this Research Topic. This theory leads us to the issue of psycho-socio-cultural mechanisms of interactions among people’s selves and their cultures in determining their actions. Researchers’ focus here may be, therefore, people’s interactions and interpersonal relationships with members of their families and the closest circles of significant others, community members, as well as broader social institutions and organizations. Along the lines of searching for such mechanisms, it will be interesting to address the processes of culture learning and internalization, processes of assimilation of cultural models and accommodation of cognitive representations of these models to ever-changing sociocultural realities, and finally the processes by which an intentional and intersubjective nature of sociocultural reality is maintained.

We are also interested in conflicts, barriers, and obstacles that individuals may encounter when their autonomous selves deal with various cultural models and their controversies. Such situations may include but are not limited to immigration and acculturation, modernization of traditional cultures, urbanization of rural population and many other instances when people being enculturated in one cultural community must adapt to the different ones.

We welcome contributions from authors with different interests and expertise in areas including social, personality, motivation, cultural and indigenous psychology, developmental science, anthropology, sociology and other relevant disciplines. We welcome papers that propose new theoretical and conceptual approaches as well as research works consisting of quantitative or qualitative inquiries .


Keywords: culture, self, cultural models, autonomy, human agency


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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