Notion of Culture

With the persistence of the African ethos in the historical and contemporary life space of African Americans, more recent scholars have utilized its principles as the foundation for this African-centered psychological perspective. Regardless of whether the topic or analysis is African-American families in therapy, African-American male-female relationships, identity development, per- sonal biographies, or the experiences of being a Black man in America, these themes discussed above continue to resonate with clarity and consistency.

What we are arguing here is the recognition that the notion of culture is central to a more deep-structured analysis of African psychology that seeks to move beyond the basic level understandings of the discipline. In helping us to embrace this idea more thoroughly, Ani has provided us with an analysis of culture at the deep structural level. Her work suggests that culture (1) unifies and orders our experience by providing a worldview that orients our experience and interpre- tation of reality; (2) provides collective group identification built on shared history, symbols, and meanings; and (3) institutionalizes and validates group beliefs, val- ues, behaviors, and attitudes. In a similar way, Nobles helps to inform our thinking about the concept of culture by suggesting that it represents the inner essence and outer envelope of human beingness.

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As we seek to engage these constructs of culture, Grills, Parham, and King, Dixon, and Nobles before them, provide us with a more formalized structure through which to examine how culture is opera- tionalized across various racial/ethnic groups. Individually and collectively, they suggest that there are five domains of information that represent elements of culture at the deep structure level, and that these domains are central to devel- oping a better working knowledge of the construct. The five domains include: Ontology (nature of reality), Axiology (one’s value orientation), Cosmology (re- lationship to the Divine force in the universe), Epistemology (systems of knowl- edge and discovering truth), and Praxis (consistency in the context of one sys- tem of human interaction).


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