SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY: Sociological Perspectives by Morris & Ralph H. Turner--Eds. Rosenberg

SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY: Sociological Perspectives

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KIRKUS REVIEW

According to Professors Rosenberg (Sociology, University of Maryland), and Turner (Sociology, University of California), the sociological side of this hybrid field has now reached ""the late adolescent stage of development."" If so, this collection brings us a number of dutiful sons and daughters, but few teenage rebels. Like well-trained graduate students, the authors (whose names read like a social psychological Who's Who) take care to pay their intellectual debts through much mentioning of Freud, Piaget, Erik Erikson, and George Herbert Mead. Yet in their review of current work there's little to startle or surprise--and much reliance on jargon and scientifistic formulas. A few, however, succeed in clarifying the state of play in such sub-fields as small groups, collective behavior, and public opinion. Diane Bush and Robert Simmons, for example, provide a clear look at the currently ""hot field"" of specialization throughout the life cycle by distinguishing among life stage, life span, and life course approaches. (The first talks of abrupt if predictable crises and passages; the second and third are smoother, with life span theorists placing more emphasis on the self, life course theorists on the role of society through institutionalized structures and historic events.) In a second worthy article Louis Zurchner and David Snow unravel research into social movements through evaluating suggested reasons for movement support--including the quest for meaning, the search for authority and the pursuit of community. Elsewhere, however, the merely obvious is given undue importance (Eleanor Singer informs us that ""the consequence of normative reference orientation is conformity""), and new terms take on their own, independent, importance. C. Norman Alexander and Mary Glenn Wiley develop the concept of ""situated activity"" through reference to Brer Rabbit--whose conduct, properly understood, falls into this category ""when he notices the Tar Baby and identifies it as a potentially sentient other."" Situated activity then leads to a ""situated identity,"" which, in turn, is identified as ""a set of dispositional imputations that are made from a given perspective about an actor on the basis of the actor's relationship to the objects of orientation."" Many of the other essays have the same, tar-baby consistency. In sum: academically reputable, but also ingrown and self-satisfied.

Pub Date: Sept. 25th, 1981
ISBN: 088738854X
Publisher: Basic Books