The clinical psychology dissertation in its historical context: A social constructionist view

Leonard I. Goldstein (1992)

In the present work the author utilized the lens of social constructionism to provide a contextual analysis and examination of a past doctoral dissertation as the subject of a case study which served to exemplify and reflect some of the values, methods, and assumptions of the early 1970s in psychology; and then compared these with present-day values in the field as reflective of more recent contextual events. More specifically, a critical gaze was focused on both the original and the present theses as they reflected attitudes toward the philosophy of science and scientific inquiry, on the nature of training in psychology, and on the place of self-in-role reflection in that training. It was argued that these elements within psychology are socially constructed, that the rules of these constructions emerge from the soil of their own particular socio-historical time, and that to the extent that we fail to consider our own contextual place in history we become vulnerable to an intellectual myopia, and blind ourselves to alternative perspectives, realms of knowledge, and enlightenment. This thesis therefore has attempted to illuminate the present by placing the past in context. Since the dissertation under scrutiny and the graduate program which guided its production were both experienced by the author of the present thesis within its own programmatic context, the process of the current dissertation was itself an enactment of the mandated contextual analysis of the social constructionist metatheory.