Thoughts on Psychology

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Archive for December 2011

Gender and social construction

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Nice piece by Sarah Ditum on gender as a social construct, but also as a part of our “grammar of identity” that can’t be dismissed as unimportant:

http://sarahditum.com/2011/12/29/thats-no-social-construct-thats-my-wife/

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Written by daijones

December 29, 2011 at 3:03 am

“Objectivity” and the View from Nowhere

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There’s a nice piece here on the “View from Nowhere” in journalism. This is described as a position where it is assumed that objectivity can be achieved by refusing to adopt a position towards a news story. Rather than delivering a story from a particular perspective, the reporter is expected to present the views of others, and facts as others see it, achieving balance by ensuring an equal number or duration of views from different sides of contentious issues. In this model, the reporter is solely an agent transmitting the ideas of others, with as little input from their own thought processes as possible. The article argues that this is a false premise, and that it’s impossible to achieve a view from nowhere: we cannot adopt no position, and trying to hide our true position in the name of “objectivity” serves to obscure when we should aim for transparency. Worse, the article goes on to suggest, encouraging journalists to adopt a view from nowhere is to deny the expertise of the journalist, and their role in the investigation and understanding of a story. The article suggests that the journalist is a knowledge worker, not a passive channel to transmit the claims of others, and that their job should be to help us to understand a situation while being transparent about the position they are adopting towards it.

I like this article a lot, partly because I agree with it when it comes to journalism, but mainly because it’s the position I try to adopt in my lectures. Academics are employed to be knowledge producers and analysers, not relayers of received wisdom, and as such need to actively construct a position towards a body of knowledge while admitting to the factors that influence that position. That’s why my books include a biographical sketch that includes a statement of my political position, so that my position is transparent and my analysis can be understood in those terms.

 

Written by daijones

December 21, 2011 at 1:05 am

Posted in Full post

Gender and determinism in the media

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The excellent Sarah Ditum gives yet another example of the news media taking evidence of some small gender difference, and then greatly inflating it; explaining it in terms of essential biological determinism; and criticising females:

Sarah Ditum on “girls talking too much”

The linked post does a good job of showing how media discourse mis-represents academic work, but something else in the original research struck me as interesting. The reporting suggests that girls talk about their feelings too much; an alternative interpretation of such gender differences as were found, and one that would surely improve society if it were acted upon, is that some boys need to be encouraged to open up about their feelings and be more emotionally literate, rather than seeing such opening up as ‘weird’.

Written by daijones

December 11, 2011 at 3:34 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Neuroscience and inequality

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Nice piece by Sarah Ditum here on how neuroscientific ideas are mangled and used to justify the neglect of the most vulnerable in society:

Pinkos and the Brain

Written by daijones

December 6, 2011 at 12:38 am

Posted in Uncategorized