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Cultural-Historical Psychology

Publisher: Moscow State University of Psychology and Education

ISSN (printed version): 1816-5435

ISSN (online): 2224-8935


License: CC BY-NC 4.0

Started in 2005

Published quarterly

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Open Access Journal

Affiliated ISCAR


Power and Taboo: On the Cultural-Psychological Sourcesof Traditionalism 1063


Bocharov V.V.
PhD in History, Professor, Chair of Theory of Social Development of Asian and African Countries, Faculty of Asian and African Studies, St. Petersburg State University, St.Petersburg, Russia

Traditionalism as a "return to traditional values" is widely represented today in the world political process, but it is particularly striking in the East. This phenomenon is analyzed from the standpoint of cultural-historical psychology. The revival of "archaic" manifestations is explained by the political elites’ (conscious or unconscious) appeal to deep layers of people's consciousness which provided the legitimacy of the "power of tradition" in the traditional society. The paper reveals the essence of this power embodied in social fear that had emerged together with first behavioral norms. It analyses taboo as a norm which initially labeled the hierarchy in the primary society, prescribing an asymmetry of behavior to the higher and lower strata (the ones in power and the ones in their power). There is a relation between the taboo and the psychophysiological mechanism of the prohibition (I. Pavlov, J. Castro) which transformed the "natural" fear into the "social" one. The paper describes the ambivalent nature of social fear as well as its intentional object: representatives of the higher strata (L. Vygotsky). The archetype of power behavior is illustrated by the political practices of the East where taboos in the shape of «absurd laws», religious and etiquette norms are widely existent in the legal field of this region’s states. This archetype also largely determines the behavior of politicians which often appears in archaic forms. Similar "psychological documents" (L. Vygotsky) are recorded in the behavior of actors in the political process of the West.

Keywords: East and West, traditional society, power, physiology of taboo, social fear, psychological confinement

Column: Discussions and Discourses


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