Making Psychology a Science: A Discourse Analysis upon the history of psychology within introductory psychology textbooks
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Abstract The history of psychology within introductory psychology textbooks is the focus of a discourse analysis (DA), to explore how it constructs the scientific status of the discipline that it is chronicling. Given the importance of Psychology’s scientific status to retain its cultural authority, and the lack of a clear demarcation between science and other forms of knowledge producing activities, there is a need to understand better how psychological knowledge came to be seen as scientific. The current projects proceeds on the constructivist premise that science is a contextual cultural phenomenon, rather than an immutable social structure. The history of psychology within introductory textbooks provides a site in which the social construction of science operates through the rhetorical process of boundary work. With reference to specific extracts, the analysis will consider how five interrelated themes are deployed, and the rhetorical function they serve to present a particular version of psychology as a science. It is hoped that the paper will show how DA can offer an insight into the way in which the history of psychology does not just describe, but constructs psychology’s scientific status, and is thus a suitable approach to explore historical and conceptual issues.