This introductory social psychology textbook is unique. It acknowledges the two very different approaches being taken to social psychology - experimental and critical. These approaches are in conflict with each other. The book brings these together in a single, coherent text. No attempt is made to find a cosy 'integration' between them; rather, students explore the benefits and drawbacks of each. This book makes students develop their skills of critical analysis by addressing questions like: What is social psychology - A natural science? A social science? A human science? Or something else entirely? How should social psychology be studied - By doing experiments? Or by analysing discourse? What is the 'social' in social psychology? Is it how people's thoughts and behaviour are influenced by social forces and circumstances? Or is it how social identities and social worlds get constructed? Is social psychology neutral and 'above politics', or is it racist and elitist? Does it need to change? How? What role can social psychologists play in 'making the world a better place'? Can they? Should they?
The features include: it introduces the experimental approach, including the study of social influence, attitudes, attribution, groups, language and communication; it introduces the critical approach, including semiotic, social constructionist and grounded theories, and discourse and narrative analyses; it explores the historical origins and development of the two approaches, their philosophical bases and the contrasting 'logics of enquiry' they use to pursue empirical research; and, it features a lively and student-friendly style with further reading and questions for revision at the end of every chapter. By studying experimental and critical approaches together, introductory-level students gain a richer and deeper understanding of what social psychology in the 21st century is about, where it is going and the issues it must address.