Self & Society: A Social Constructionist Perspecti

2338 words - 9 pages

Question 1, 'Why might social constructionism be considered as putting 'critical' into critical social psychology?' During the late 60's and early 70's, a crisis of confidence took place in the world of social psychology. Many social psychologists became weary of the traditional theories and methods of their field. Although the crisis affected social psychologists everywhere, it was said to have taken place mainly in America and in Europe, with different implications for the field in either continent. This change of heart was largely focussed on the concepts of reductionism and positivism.In America, the emergence of radical social movements began to pose new questions regarding inter-disciplinary and political issues such as the state of experimental ethics, the requirement to seek knowledge from studying subjects within social psychology and the individualistic ideal created and made common within psychology. In Europe, there was an increased level of scepticism for laboratory-based experimental social psychology coupled with a more popular concern for ideology.In principal, Reductionism is seen as an 'objection to mainstream psychological methods which tend to empty or reduce concepts of their meaning in order to render them measurable.' (Brendan Gough and Majella McFadden, 2001) This questions whether the human psyche can be completely explained by breaking it down into one or two general principles. Reductionism would have it that all human behaviour can ultimately be determined at some biological level. Social psychology makes use of asocial intrapsychic cognitive and motivational processes, hence it was seen as being too reductionist and was criticised as such.In terms of social psychology, positivism is known as the means of studying man and his social world. Gough and McFadden's (2001) definition argues that positivism is 'a belief in natural science as a positive social force capable of generating sound knowledge and moving society forward.' The sceptics involved in the era of the social psychology crisis however came to believe that as positivist methods entailed people (social psychologists) studying other people, they could not maintain objectivity in their experiments. In other words: it was claimed that any ideas, opinions and biases of the social psychologist acquired through their own life experiences may be of detriment to their findings. By this logic, biases could be identified in causal mechanisms such as stereotypes and attitudes, leaving conclusions to experimental findings somewhat ambiguous and dependant upon time and place. With this idea in mind, social constructionists therefore put forward the argument that there is no once and-for-all accurate or true version of the world.Those of the social constructionist persuasion do not claim to oppose the nature of science, although they are sceptical towards its claim to uncover knowledge in its methods. Therefore many of the scientific ?laws? known previously to social...

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