How Bruner Foresaw a Future That Has Yet to Be Achieved

  • Rom HarréEmail author
Part of the Cultural Psychology of Education book series (CPED, volume 2)


In the nineteen seventies Bruner began to develop the idea that intentionality is the key defining concept of psychological phenomena. To put it simply he became convinced that the phenomena that psychologists ought to be studying are meanings and the principles of their sequencing into strips of life. A state of the world be it person or thing has significance for psychology only if it as a meaning for the people whose thoughts, feelings actions and perceptions are being studied. The scope of common meanings runs from culture wide, as a sign being understood similarly by everyone in that region to the idiographic, or local as to be the preserve of only two people, or maybe only one. But what is meaning? That an entity should be a sign, capable of having a definite meaning, requires that the entity should be located in a network of exclusions, its absence or omission makes a difference to what people do. A sign may have several meanings and these ay change, but they are established by local conventions, definitions, ordinances, synods and so on. A sign has a meaning is as much as to say that it displays intentionality. What is the scope of entities that can have intentionality? It includes gestures, expressions and stances, insignia, costumes, road signs, words, arrangements of words, monuments, natural phenomena, both public and private. The linking of meaningful signs into episodes is not causal, but by rules, conventions and so on that preserve meaning and realize certain cultural and historically important story-lines.


Bruner Intentionality Meaning Narrative Cultural psychology 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Georgetown UniversityWashington, D.CUSA

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