Outline the four domains of analysis found in social psychology. Illustrate these with examples from the course. Should these different modes of explanation for psychological phenomena be treated as complementary, as incommensurable, or through a reductionist strategy?
Social psychology utilises four domains of analysis. Each of these domains locate the various perspectives found in social psychology, however, some of the perspectives can be located in more than one domain. The societal domain employs sociological emphasis for investigating and trying to understand the person, this is achieved by focusing on wider society or social relations. The societal domain is the home of the social construction perspective, but as mentioned above can also accommodate other perspectives. The group domain focuses solely on the group and its power over the individual to shape behaviour and how groups create their own emotional climates and collective pathology. The cognitive-experimental perspective is often associated with the group domain. The interpersonal/personal domain concentrates on the holistic person and although social influences are not ignored, the individual's ability to construct themselves through conscious analytical processes are the focus of explanation. The fourth domain is the intrapersonal domain concerned with what goes on inside the individual. Psychodynamic and biological perspectives are contained within this domain (Sapsford, 1996, p.68-72). Although these four domains appear to be distinct from each other, the boundaries between them are often blurred and due to some of the perspectives being located in more than one domain, makes the distinction between them blurred (Sapsford, 1996, p.67). I will begin the essay by continuing to outline the four domains of analysis using examples from the D317 course and the family. Then come to a conclusion about the complementary, incommensurable or reductionist prospects of these disparate domains of analysis.
Social relations are deemed to be fundamental for the societal domain of analysis. Bales suggested that different roles, hierarchical positions, shared beliefs, ideologies and common assumptions are crucial aspects to establish power relations within society, which produces sociological determinism (Radley 1996, p.27-32). This sociological determinism is very difficult for individuals and even groups to change, it exists prior to the individual and constraints their choices (Sapsford, 1996, p.68). For example, autonomy and choice of roles children acquire are not created within the family but rather from outside influences. Foucault believed that the child later obtains power via learning and negotiating through discourse (Wetherell and Maybin, 1996, p.262-263). Foucault thus implies that to understand influences of society we should consider subjective 'power/knowledge' complexities that produce an account of historical 'Truth' (Wetherell, 1996a, p.308-309).
Also fundamental to the societal domain is the power of shared images and social representations to shape peoples identity and understanding (Potter, 1996, p.120-121). For example, feminists argue that differences between femininity and masculinity are connected to issues of power, constructed by social representation (Wetherell, 1996, p.323). Social representations are internal cognitive images and exist externally, therefore individuals and society play an integrated role in constructing our realities of the world (Morant and Finlay, 2001, p.6). However, we are often impervious to these social representations, social constructions, power struggles and ideologies that are internalised as 'natural and normal' (Morant and Finlay, 2001, p.7-8). Gramsci agrees that these ideologies become internalised within individuals as common sense and accepted by the masses (Billig, 2001, p.61-62). Others argue that social psychology is fabricated by societal determinants but also influences it in turn and...
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