Recent years have seen an increasing recognition of issues with psychology, and growth in critical approaches to the discipline. However, existing texts in critical psychology are rather advanced for most readers. This book provides an accessible introduction to ideas in critical psychology, highlighting key debates about the assumptions, practices, and claims of the discipline. It takes a distinctive approach of considering historical controversies in psychology to show the ways in which psychology is embedded within particular sociohistorical contexts. Using a range of examples we show that the discipline is shaped by the ways in which it interrelates with society and that positions taken towards fundamental issues in psychology are reflections of that social context. The approach we take has a number of advantages over more conventional treatments of issues and debates in psychology, which discuss them in isolation and in quite abstract terms. Our approach allows us to provide concrete examples of the impact of these debates on psychological thought and practice. Our emphasis is on understanding issues in psychology in the context of wider psychological thought, and in the context of society. Thus, for example, bias is considered in talking about psychology’s dealings with gender and with race, and also in considering methodology; while the discussion of ethics considers how ethical standards are constructed by society but are challenged by the demands of governments and other organizations. In addressing these debates, we develop a conceptual framework for understanding the nature of psychology as a reflexive human science.
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