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By Martin Gold

Univ. of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Presentation of the author's version of social psychology which makes a speciality of the reciprocal family among the individual and the social setting.

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Here lies the major contribution of the strategy t o integrating social psychology. That it does not distinguish psychological from social phenomena or different kinds of social phenomena from one another also disqualifies metalanguage as the primary theoretical strategy for social psychology. Two metalanguages illustrate the strategy in this section: James G. Miller’s general system theory (1978) and Talcott Parsons’s theory of action (1961, 1969). These two have complementary features, so together they display the theoretical potential of metalanguages.

These difficulties have discouraged widespread use of a broad metalanguage in social psychology. Its breadth renders it inadequate for solving many of the problems of social psychology because those problems are peculiarly social. A metalanguage that covers all systems or even just all living systems may contribute to our understanding of human behavior. Ranging over its broad domain, one may gain insights from observing how humans function as systems. However, its generality, necessarily based on what humans have in common with all other living beings, limits its usefulness for social psychologists whose focus is on what is peculiarly human.

The question is prompted by a closed theory of social organization; the answer depends on a probabilistic social psychological theory that also takes into account the persons’ psychological states at the time. Social psychology can make contemporary diagnoses of situations adequate to explain the reciprocal influence of individuals and their social environment only by attending to all of its psychological and social levels of analysis. The states of the persons’ psyches are contemporaneously and with various strengths under the influence of their role relationships, their interpersonal relations, and the cultures to which they subscribe.

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