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Stud Hist Philos Biol Biomed Sci. 2012 Jun;43(2):514-21. doi: 10.1016/j.shpsc.2011.11.010. Epub 2011 Nov 25.

American social psychology: Examining the contours of the 1970s crisis.

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Department of Psychology, York University, 4700 Keele Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M3J 1P3.


Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, social psychologists diagnosed their field as suffering a state of disciplinary crisis. The crisis was a multifaceted one, but issues of methodology, social relevance, and disciplinary, philosophical, and theoretical orientation were the primary areas of concern. Given that these issues have been prominent ones throughout the history of the social and behavioral sciences, it becomes necessary to look to the immediate context of the 1970s crisis to understand how and why a disciplinary crisis came to be diagnosed. The present analysis suggests that the crisis reflected the larger crisis in American society and also drew on the language of crisis prevalent at the time. Employing this language may have offered the field a method of making sense of, reframing, and redirecting internal and external critiques of the discipline.

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