Is culture a (still) useful category of psychological and social analysis?

Michael Mcdougall *, Tatiana V. Ryba ** and Noora J. Ronkainen **

(*) Department of Psychology, Keystone College, USA
(**) Department of Psychology, University of Jyvaskyla, Finland


Mcdougall, M., V. Ryba, T., J. Ronkainen, N. (2020). Is culture a (still) useful category of psychological and social analysis?. International Journal of Sport Psychology, 51(6), 626-645. doi:10.7352/IJSP.2020.51.626


The need to centralize culture in research and practice is now well-established in sport psychology and spans different genres of our discipline. Yet, in spite of some precious gains made in the last decade, the culture concept and the uses of it in sport psychology have already arguably become limited and stifled. Setting this observation within historical patterns of culture study witnessed in other disciplines (e.g., anthropology, cultural studies, organizational management), we offer a theoretical critique that outlines the possibility for the death of culture as a meaningful concept in Organizational Sport Psychology and Cultural Sport Psychology. Subsequently, we argue for the continued usefulness of culture and, how, in spite of many infirmities, it remains an essential concept for the analysis of psychological and social life. For culture to remain intellectually vital in these analyses (and in the development of competent cultural practice) though, it must be positioned differently, and with more theoretical variety and rigor. To support our arguments, we close with 5 (not exhaustive) recommendations that can help to secure the future of culture in sport psychology.

Keywords: Cultural Competence, Difference, Meaning, Mode of Being, Practice.