The authors thank Dr. Lotte Bailyn for her assistance with this project and for sharing her mother's unpublished memoir with us for use in the article.
Reclaiming SPSSI's Sociological Past: Marie Jahoda and the Immersion Tradition in Social Psychology
Version of Record online: 14 MAR 2011
© 2011 The Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues
Journal of Social Issues
Volume 67, Issue 1, pages 42–58, March 2011
How to Cite
Rutherford, A., Unger, R. and Cherry, F. (2011), Reclaiming SPSSI's Sociological Past: Marie Jahoda and the Immersion Tradition in Social Psychology. Journal of Social Issues, 67: 42–58. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-4560.2010.01682.x
- Issue online: 14 MAR 2011
- Version of Record online: 14 MAR 2011
Aspects of the life and work of Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI)'s first female president, Marie Jahoda (1907–2001), are examined to help reclaim social psychology's, and SPSSI's, lost connection to sociology. Throughout her career, Jahoda promoted a nonreductionistic, problem-focused sociological social psychology that was profoundly influenced by her early interdisciplinary training and by subsequent collaborations with other SPSSI members in New York City in the decade following WWII. Her use of the participant observation method, or immersion approach, was an outgrowth of her sociological sensibility. She used this approach to describe and explain the complex interactions between individuals and social structures in real-life settings. By placing Jahoda at the center of our analysis, we aim to complicate standard historical narratives about the loss of the sociological tradition within social psychology and re-assess the relationship between the two social psychologies. We argue that her legacy should be brought to bear on contemporary debates about SPSSI's social relevance and may help re-envision the disciplinary boundaries of contemporary social psychology.