American Social Psychology: Its Origins, Development, and European Background

American Social Psychology: Its Origins, Development, and European Background

American Social Psychology: Its Origins, Development, and European Background

American Social Psychology: Its Origins, Development, and European Background

Excerpt

This work had its origin in the attempt to outline the development of social-psychological thought in this country. But since this subject could not be presented significantly in isolation, the work has gradually assumed its present proportions.

The study was begun in 1921 when the need for some such survey stood out glaringly, and it was completed in its original form in 1925. Since that time, the appearance of several shorter surveys, especially the chapter by Kimball Young in The History and Prospects of the Social Sciences, edited by Harry Elmer Barnes, has indicated the importance of the material and encouraged its revision and elaboration to its present form.

The treatment, except for some necessary background, has been confined to the development of social psychology as social psychology. Hence no attempt has been made to extend the background survey beyond the nineteenth century crystallizations of social-psychological thought. Also, the treatment has throughout been determined by the original interest in illuminating American social-psychological thought. This consideration explains many details of emphasis and procedure which might otherwise come into question.

The method of presentation decided upon as being best adapted to the accurate handling of the task in hand, in view of the very important role which personalities still play in the social-psychological movement, is a modified form of biographical exposition organized broadly, as a matter of convenience and in order to be able to reflect the development of American social psychology upon the background of European thought, along relevant national lines. This method has certain obvious advantages in providing natural classifications, which to the author seemed determining in the present state of social-psychological development. However, it also has, as would any other method, some definite limitations. There are thus certain other possible approaches to the consideration of social psychology and especially of social psychologists. Professor Faris has undertaken to suggest in the Foreword how some of them might be followed out with profit in filling out the picture here unfolded.

No claim is made for exhaustiveness of treatment in any part of this survey and certainly not in the European background. The treatment has necessarily been selective. Others might have varied the emphasis . . .

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