aspects of societal functions were not actually changed at all and although

Aspects of societal functions were not actually

This preview shows page 25 - 26 out of 43 pages.

aspects of societal functions were not actually changed at all, and although psychological effects were sometimes tumultuous, they were often circumscribed and limited to behaviors and aspects of psychosocial development that were influenced by social institutions. An example is the influence of schools or firms that underwent change during the political and economic transformation. The conceptual backdrop of challenge-response on the macro level reminded us psychologists of structurally equivalent approaches under the general rubric of stress and coping. The notion was that the everyday manifesta- tions of societal challenges at the individual level (hence- forth called demands) represent the kind of experiences (ranging from sometimes crippling uncertainties, to oppor- tunities for new behaviors) that lead to coping behaviors, reminiscent of the societal responses mentioned by our colleagues from the other social sciences. For them, the attraction lay in the promise to investigate the individual behaviors that not only represent reactions to the new challenges, but that also set the starting point for ultimate changes on the societal level, thus bridging aggregate level change across time by the behavior and development of individuals and groups. For us, the attraction was that we had an elaborate system of societal contexts and their dynamics at hand which, in theory (but until now rarely in practice) are taken as important for a conceptualization of the contexts which developing individuals negotiate. As already mentioned, the collaboration within the SFB 580 was no accident—actually, I and my colleagues at the CADS, and its predecessors at my former universities, had a long history of working on ‘development as action in context’ with models that focus on demands rooted in contextual change and that focus on action related to these demands as the central change mechanism. Inspired by Glen Elders’s ‘control cycle’ model, we investigated how people dealt with economic hardship in Berlin and Warsaw in the early 1980s, and later in the former East and West Germany after unification; obviously this approach was also instrumental in our new line of research. As the range of topic-specific reactions to the multitude of transforma- tion-related demands seemed endless, we relied instead on a model of developmental regulation (by Jutta Heckhausen and colleagues) that linked situational reactions to demands with long-term developmental changes. Other researchers relevant for our translation of the challenge- response model to individual behavior and development were Melvin Kohn and his series of studies on self- direction under conditions of societal change, from Poland and the Ukraine to China. And of course Stevan Hobfoll was relevant with his emphasis on resource loss as a consequence of system transformation.
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