Study, using personal accounts and participant observation, of two 'growth' movements as social-psychological phenomena, with a discussion of the possibility of a humanistic science of persons
McLeod, John Alexander
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The thesis is in two parts. Part I examines the possibility of a humanistic science of persons. The failure of the psychometric approach to personality research is described. It is argued that psychometrics denies the common-sense, everyday-life basis of its procedures. Then, with the aim of constructing a true science of persons, some of the concepts of a philosophy of the person are introduced. Finally, it is suggested that a science of persons would be a science of interpretation. A methodology for such a science is set out, along with the examples of research which has exploited these methods. In Part II, a programme of substantive research is presented. The aim is to investigate those experiences which individuals claim lead to their personal 'growth'. Two 'growth' movements - Transcendental Meditation and encounter groups - are studied as social-psychological phenomena. The methods used are personal accounts and participant observation. These activities are described as constituting unique identifiable 'regions of social reality'. It is concluded that they resemble forms of art such as novels or films more than forms of therapy or education. The implications of this conclusion are explored in a final Chapter.
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