November 7

Read Chapters 9 and 10 of the Danziger text, and

pages 68 through 76 of Nightingale, D. & Neilands, T. (1997). Understanding and practicing critical psychology. In D. Fox & I. Prilleltensky (Eds.) Critical Psychology: An Introduction, (pp. 68-83). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
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The final chapters of the Danziger book are concerned with the language of psychology, particularly the framework that this language provides for the interpretation of human experience and behaviour. The response paper for this section is an opportunity to examine material in your area of interest for examples of the ideas that Danziger discusses. The assignment is to:

Choose an article or book chapter from your area of interest and comment on how it provides examples (or counterexamples) of the points that Danziger makes about the language and categories of Psychology. The paper should be no more than two pages and is to be completed for the class on Thursday, November 9. In Tuesday’s class we will look at the following article and discuss what aspects of it one might comment on if it were the article chosen for the assignment:

Loukas, A., Suzuki, R. & Horton, K. (2006). Examining school connectedness as a mediator of school climate effects. Journal of Research on Adolesence, 16, 491-502.

A bit of time with this article before class will help you profit from Tuesday’s discussion of how this week’s reading can be applied to it.

The following are some examples of points from Danziger that one might seek to illustrate in the assignment (no need to restrict yourself to these examples; any of his points would be appropriate for discussion):

“… the use of variables … was too often based on the ‘basic fallacy’ that independent variables exerted their influence ‘automatically’ without the intervention of interpretive processes among the persons acted upon.” (171)

“… the variables that investigators had constructed by means of their measuring instruments often appear as causal agents, variously described as ‘determinative factors’, ‘influencing variable’, ‘determining variables’, which ‘affect’ psychological processes, ‘produce’ effects, and play a ‘determinative’ role. … the context makes it quite clear that ontological claims were being made …” (173)

“… the command to look for variables was taken to mean that phenomena ought to be investigated in terms of their variation – in Psychology, typically, inter-individual variation.” Compare to physics where “… the explanation of physical phenomena was one thing and the explanation of their variation quite another.” (178)

“… the categories one meets in psychological texts are discursive categories, forms of words, not the things themselves. There is a distinction, often ignored by practitioners, between the language used to describe a particular set of phenomena and the phenomena themselves ….” (186)

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