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Theorizing political psychology: Doing integrative social science under the condition of postmodernity


At the beginning of the 21st century, the field of political psychology; like the social sciences more generally, is being challenged. New theoretical direction is being demanded from within and a greater epistemological sophistication and ethical relevance is being demanded from without. In response, direction for a reconstructed political psychology is offered here. To begin, a theoretical framework for a truly integrative political psychology is sketched. This is done in light of the apparent limits of cross-disciplinary or multidisciplinary inquiry. In the attempt to transcend these limits, the theoretical approach offered directly addresses the dually structured quality of social life as the singular product of both organizing social structures and defining discourse communities on the one hand and motivated, thinking individuals on the other. To further this theoretical effort, meta-theoretical considerations are addressed. The modernist-postmodernist debate regarding the status of truth and value is used as a point of departure for constructing the epistemological foundation for a truly political psychology. In this light, structural pragmatic guidelines for theory construction, empirical research and normative inquiry are presented.

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