The Social Dimension of Social Psychology: A Historical Analysis

Authored by: Kenneth J. Gergen

Handbook of the History of Social Psychology

Print publication date:  December  2011
Online publication date:  October  2012

Print ISBN: 9781848728684
eBook ISBN: 9780203808498
Adobe ISBN: 9781136668999


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The concept of social psychology as a scientific discipline derives from two major traditions for describing and explaining human activity—one psychological and the other social. My goal in this chapter is to trace the relationship of these traditions in the recent history of the discipline, with a special emphasis on the social dimension. To be sure, there are numerous ways to describe and explain human activity, and such accounts shift significantly across time and culture. These two traditions of explanation are highly significant, however, as they are woven into many cultural institutions and activities. They are pivotal to our ways of life. In effect, our choices for describing and explaining human action are not trivial in consequence.

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