Culture, Science, Diplomacy: Prospects of Culture-Centric Research


In the article, we consider the basis of culture-centric methodology. We examine notions of ‘culture’, ‘value’ and ‘practice’ as the key elements of this methodology and follow their interconnections and mutual determination. The prospects of the methodology based on these notions is evaluated from the point of view of its applicability to investigations of national cultures, science as a special type of culture,diplomatic community, which can also be considered in possession of a peculiar group culture. We examine the relations of ‘culture’ and ‘practice’ on the one hand with ‘paradigm’ in the initial Kuhnian sense on the other and attempt to lay ground for application of the latter beyond analysis of scientific research. We also consider application in a wider context of postpositivist methodologies of such authors as philosophers  I.  Lakatos,  P.  Feuerabend,  sociologists  N.  Gilbert  and  M.  Mulkay,  social  psychologist I. Mitroff. The concepts of the three latter authors are seen as a solution to the problem of the inner contradictions of cultures. The core of the Gilbert and Mulkay’s method is the separation of discourse practices in accordance with their sphere of application and in grouping them in different repertoires. And the basis of Mitroff’s method is in psychoanalytic approach to individual ambivalence, which provides ground for recognition of the fact that each norm, adopted by an in individual, is complemented by an opposite norm that allows flexible adaptation to different social situations. Cultures differ not so much in norms themselves as in the forms of expression these norms acquire, which provide for their implementation or in especially expository cases block implementation of an opposite norm. The main thesis of the article is that these approaches, developed in philosophy, sociology and psychology of science can be successfully employed in analysis of cultures of a much wider range of communities than just scientific community. We suggest examination of the diplomatic community as one possible example. Employing the Kuhn’s theory it can be characterized as a community of ‘translators’,  providing  means  of  communication between incompatible world-views, in other words, they possess a new paradigm constructed in order to combine previously existing ‘incommensurable’ ones.


cultural psychology; social psychology of science; research culture; psychology of diplomacy.

Authors: Alexey Shestopal, Vladimir Konnov

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