Mainstream Psychology : Social, Cultural, Historical And Political Context

1924 Words Nov 9th, 2016 8 Pages
Mainstream psychology is often considered to be factual and objective however it is argued by critical psychologists that research is often influenced by its social, cultural, historical and political context. Critical psychologists have disputed the notion of objective psychology and have identified different levels at which values can be seen to operate within mainstream psychology. In this essay I will critically discuss the extent to which mainstream research has benefited more powerful groups, whilst contributing to the oppression of marginalised groups, keeping them in subordinate positions. In addition, I will address some of the branches of psychology which aim to challenge and interrogate the methods used within mainstream psychology and the power imbalances created by this.

Mainstream psychology is largely underpinned by a realist epistemology, and is often portrayed as an objective science of the individual, unaffected by ideology. It prioritises the use of scientific methods in order to gain ‘credible’ knowledge. Critical psychology argues that the ‘myth’ of psychology as a science is perpetuated by the way in which psychologists talk and write about their work. Harroway describes science as ‘a story telling craft’, arguing that findings are represented as scientific, not through the methods employed but how the knowledge is presented. Discursive strategies are often used by psychologists when presenting their findings to help portray their work as unbiased…

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