The June issue of the American Psychological Association’s Monitor on Psychology includes a piece on the 75th anniversary of SPSSI. SPSSI, the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues, is division 9 of the APA. As Alexandra Rutherford describes,
SPSSI was born on Sept. 1, 1936, at New Hampshire’s Dartmouth College. It was conceived and delivered by a dynamic group of concerned social scientists who felt that organized psychology was not acting on the pressing social and economic problems of the 1930s. As one founder, Walter Lurie, put it, “we believed the study of psychology must have some relevance to economic and political problems, if it had any human worth at all.”
In its first year, SPSSI welcomed 17 percent of APA’s members into its ranks.
In the article, Rutherford also describes Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speech as part of SPSSI’s 1967 APA convention programming. The full piece on SPSSI’s history can be read online here.
AHP’s readers may also want to check out SPSSI’s 75th anniversary gala August 3rd, during the APA convention in Washington, DC.
The March 2011 issue of the Journal of Social Issues, devoted to the history of the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI), Division 9 of the American Psychological Association, has just been released online. This special issue, edited by Alexandra Rutherford, Frances Cherry, and Rhoda Unger, has been assembled to mark the 75th anniversary of SPSSI and examines the organization’s efforts to effect social change. Articles in this special issue address work on morale during WWII, housing and race in postwar America, the sociological social psychology of Marie Jahoda, SPSSI’s quest for value neutrality in the 1930s through the 1960s, the organization’s Task Force on Sexual Orientation in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and much more. Full titles, authors, and abstracts for the issue follow below.
“‘Society Very Definitely Needs Our Aid’: Reflecting on SPSSI in History,” by Alexandra Rutherford, Frances Cherry, and Rhoda Unger. The abstract reads,
The year 2011 marks the 75th anniversary of the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI). One of the primary reasons SPSSI was established was the desire, on the part of its founders, to use scientific research for social action and to bring the insights of social science into national-level debates about social issues. This anniversary affords us the opportunity to examine when, where, why, and how SPSSI has been more and less successful in its efforts to impact society. Historical analyses focusing on the long-standing tension between scientific objectivity and political advocacy are used as a lens through which to examine SPSSI’s legacy and to provide a more informed basis for future action. Continue reading Special Issue: History of SPSSI
The most recent issue of the Psychology of Women Quarterly (PWQ), includes two articles on the history of feminist psychology. In “Responsible Opposition, Disruptive Voices: Science, Social Change, and the History of Feminist Psychology” Alexandra Rutherford (left), Kelli Vaughn-Blount, and Laura C. Ball explore the complex relationship between psychologists’ positivist scientific ideals and feminist political projects. The other historically minded article in this issue of PWQ, “Feminism and Women Leaders in SPSSI: Social Networks, Ideology, and Generational Change,” explores the lives of female leaders of the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues. Title, authors, and abstracts follow below.
“Responsible Opposition, Disruptive Voices: Science, Social Change, and the History of Feminist Psychology” by Alexandra Rutherford, Kelli Vaughn-Blount, and Laura C. Ball. The abstract reads:
Feminist psychology began as an avowedly political project with an explicit social change agenda. However, over the last two decades, a number of critics have argued that feminist psychology has become mired in an epistemological impasse where positivist commitments effectively mute its political project, rendering the field acceptable to mainstream psychology yet shorn of its transformative vision. In this article, we explore the complexity of allying positivism with a transformative project using two illustrative examples from feminist psychology’s history. Both Naomi Weisstein, whose work was catalytic in the creation of feminist psychology in the 1970s, and Ethel Tobach, who has consistently fought against sexism, racism, and other forms of injustice as both scientist and citizen, have remained committed to the scientific ideal without losing sight of their political projects. Continue reading History of Feminist Psychology in PWQ