Transcending the Individual-Society Dualism


Option B

To What extent has theory and research on families been successful in transcending the individual-society dualism?

In this essay I shall be exploring the input of the different types of theory and research in shaping notions of family and seeking to show how they interact and diverge using the interrogative theme of individual-society dualism. I shall also be looking at the situated nature of knowledge and how theories formulations reflect power struggles and subconscious motives that shift between societies and individuals.
I shall argue that knowledge that is de-contextualised has the effect of creating an individual-society dualism, but studies that acknowledge the situated nature of knowledge are less likely to observe paradoxical situations, where social and individual forces compete for dominance in explanations. In contrast within a more personalised less scientific mode of investigation a person can situate themselves in terms of the various factors combining to make them who they are.

The issue of the relationship between individual and society as it effects many areas of psychology, philosophy and politics is a contentious one. In Psychology and Social psychology it has manifested itself in the appearance of divergent epistemologies and methodologies (Cromby 2005). Disciplines have arisen that have distinct views of what is being studied and the best way to study it. Outside of psychology there are disciplines such as anthropology, sociology and cultural studies. Within psychology there is main stream social psychology, the sub disciplines and critical methods such as Discursive, social psychoanalytic and phenomenological.   The dualism can be argued to have been created by a polarisation of opinion on cause and effect that caused separate avenues of research to be pursued without much interdisciplinary agreement.
The study of the family has proved something of a microcosm of the wider theoretical disputes and differing...