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The politics of scientific social reform, 1936-1960: Goodwin Watson and the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues

Nicholson, Ian A.M. (1997) The politics of scientific social reform, 1936-1960: Goodwin Watson and the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues. Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences 33:pp. 39-60.

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Abstract

This paper explores the development and subsequent transformation of a "radical" professional model in American psychology. Its focal point is Goodwin Watson and the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI), an organization Watson helped found in 1936. During the Depression, he and many of his SPSSI colleagues called upon psychologists to abandon value neutrality and political disinterestedness in favor of an explicit set of social democratic goals and left-wing political alliances. Government service and political persecution during World War II led Watson to conclude that his Depressionera calls for sweeping change in psychology had neglected a number of significant political dimensions. Of particular importance was the problematic interface between psychological expertise and policy formation. In response to this concern, Watson encouraged the development of the now familiar model of the psychologist as a disinterested purveyor of value-neutral expertise.

EPrint Type:Journal (Paginated)
Keywords:Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues, Psychological Expertise, Goodwin Watson, science and politics
Subjects:Psychology > Social
Chronology > 20th Century
ID Code:167
Deposited By:Nicholson, Ian
Deposited On:26 July 2003