Thoits, P.A. 1995. Social Psychology: The Interplay between Sociology and Psychology.

Thoits, Peggy A. 1995. “Social Psychology: The Interplay between Sociology and Psychology.” Social Forces 73(4): 1231-1243.

In social psych, sociologists tend to draw more from psychology literature than vice versa – “because sociologist more often assess the degree to which status characteristics, social relationships, and structural contexts influence individuals’ thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, while psychologists more often explicated the mechanisms through which such social factors affect individuals” (1231).  — That is, sociologists identify and label social phenomena’s impact on people, whereas psychologists examine the processes/mechanisms/conditions by which these phenomena impact (observational vs. theoretical).

Psychological SP’s tend to focus on the impacts of others’ on an individual (acknowledges that they frequently do so without contextualizing key relational or hierarchical factors — “clinicizing” the subject?) Many focus on individuals’ interactions within small group contexts.

DQ: Even though this practice illuminates a wealth of socially-based interpersonal phenomena, does this really “take the analysis up a level?”  Isn’t this just “group psychology”?  How “big” of a scope/sample do we have to host to “feel” sociological —- where do we demarcate this boundary?

DQ: Without the list of sociological variables presented (status characteristics, role relationships, organizational/hierarchical context) — what is assumedly social about psychological SP?

Symbolic interactionists observe the above, but acknowledge individuals’ impacts on the structure/people around them.

Continues to compare and contrast (and converse) the topics in which sociology and psychology SP debate and interweave.  Recommends further borrowing from psychological approaches to SP, with a mind to the critical characteristics of social interaction/organization they tend to overlook.


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