Society for Psychological Anthropology
Anthropology of Consciousness
Cosponsored - Oral Presentation Session
Since the seminal publication by Hall and Van de Castle in 1966, content analysis has become a standard methodology used by many contemporary dream researchers in psychology. This methodology analyzes large dream data sets using a semi-standardized coding system to uncover insights about individual dreamers and their groups. Although anthropologists have rightly criticized this coding system as being culture-bound, I argue this methodology can still generate knowledge useful for psychological anthropologists when using a modified, culturally relative coding system and when such an analysis is paired with adequate psychological and ethnographic data. To show this, I first consider the theoretical implications of making such modifications. I then present my own research findings among young adults in Berlin, Germany. I draw on 453 dream narratives and analyze motifs associated with collective memories, subject positionalities, and emotional values to show how such motifs reflect complex feelings of responsibility toward the current refugee crisis. I next suggest how the use of content analysis strengthens my arguments. Finally, I conclude by reviewing similar ethnographic undertakings from outside the West to briefly suggest how such modified coding systems can be used in broader cross-cultural analyses.