Modern dialectics in social psychology: A reappraisal



The current status of dialectic theory in social psychology is critically examined. Its basic and interdependent assumptions are discussed and recent misconceptions analyzed. An attempt is made to clarify major confusions and misinterpretations of dialectics regarding such issues as dialectics as a conceptual versus a methodological tool, dialectics as a form of cognitive process, dialectics as a firm of interactionism, and dialectical contradictions as semantic opposites. To illustrate the relevance of dialectic theory to current issues a major dualism in social psychology is examined, namely that of individual versus social theorizing. Drawing liberally from Marxist social theory it is shown how the traditional dualism is resolved through dialectics. Finally, a response is firmed to criticisms addressed to the current status of social psychology. It is shown that dialectics not only incorporates most of the demands raised by these criticisms, but also enhances the field by pointing toward new perspectives and directions.