The relation between individual and collective processes is central to the social sciences, yet difficult to conceptualize because of the necessity of crossing disciplinary boundaries. The result is that researchers in different disciplines construct their own implicit, and often unsatisfactory, models of either individual or collective phenomena, which in turn influence their theoretical and empirical work. In this book, Drew Westen attempts to cross these boundaries, proposing an interdisciplinary approach to personality, to culture, and to the relation between the two. Part I of the book sets forth a model of personality that integrates psychodynamic analysis with an understanding of cognitively mediated conditioning and social learning. In Part II, Westen offers a view of culture that blends symbolic and materialist modes of discourse, examining the role of both ideals and 'material' needs in motivating symbolic as well as concrete social structural processes. In Part III, he combines these models of personality and culture through an examination of cultural evolution and stasis, identity and historical change, and the impact of technological development on personality. Throughout the book, Westen provides reviews of the state of the art in a variety of fields, including personality theory, moral development, ego development, and culture theory. He also addresses and recasts central issues in psychology, sociology, anthropology, and social theory, such as the relations between emotion and cognition; social learning and psychodynamics; ideals and material forces; and individual and collective action. His book will appeal to students and scholars in all the social sciences, as well as to any reader concerned with understanding the relation between individuals and the world in which they live.
'Based on an admirably thorough exposition of modern thought and research in the psychological and social sciences, Drew Westen presents here a brilliant, intellectually exhilarating effort to transcend, by means of a new theoretical formulation, the artificial divisions in our knowledge about individuals and about cultures.' Marie Jahoda, Professor Emerita, University of Sussex 'This is a notable attempt to integrate contemporary personality theory and contemporary theories in anthropology around the concept of psychological need. It is an impressive overview of a psychocultural approach to social theory that takes into account usually neglected psychological variables. A cogent and compelling work, it will provoke thought and response in its readers.' Professor George DeVos, University of California, Berkeley