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The Underlying philosophical approaches to scientific enquiry of Positivist
and Social Constructivist psychology have a great deal to offer one another
and should not be view as mutually exclusive. Discuss.

        Abstract:
        This paper addresses  the  philosophical  differences  between  two
        approaches to psychology.  Firstly, it describes the  philosophical
        foundations of Social Constructivism with its ideas of  a  socially
        constructed  reality  that  is  contextually,  linguistically   and
        culturally specific; an approach that professes that  there  is  no
        one truth, but many competing truths.  The paper then  goes  on  to
        describe the Positivist  approach  with  its  ideas  that  only  by
        following strict scientific rules can any science earn a  level  of
        academic respect and trust.   This,  in  its  most  extreme  forms,
        professes that only observable behaviour and  environmental  events
        are legitimate objects  of  enquiry;  concepts  that  can  only  be
        inferred to by  such  events  are  not.   After  demonstrating  the
        differences between these approaches the  paper  suggests  ways  in
        which  they  may  enhance  each  other.   For  example,  by   being
        reflective and aware of  one's  own  epistemology,  scientists  can
        inject greater meaning and validity into their empirical  research.
        Therefore, it is the aim of this paper  to  demonstrate  that  both
        approaches are valid and both can be used to compliment the other.

            Key  Words:   Philosophical  Approaches,  Scientific   Enquiry,
            Positivism, Social Constructivism.

According to Valentine (1998), interest  in  the  philosophy  of  psychology
grew out of a desire to align it  with  other  natural  sciences.   However,
ironically these interests lead  to  the  current  scholarly  thinking  that
psychology is in many ways very different from other 'hard' sciences.   What
psychology examines are human behaviours, emotion and  attitudes.  As  these
are strongly influenced by freewill  they  must  also  be  specific  to  the
culture, epoch and society that formed  that  freewill  as  "psychology  par
excellence does not occur in a  social  or  historical  vacuum"  (Valentine,
1998, p.167).

Social Constructivism
There  is  no  single  clear,  all   encompassing   definition   of   social
constructivism.  Burr (2000) suggests that  social  constructivism  consists
of a number of related theories and  ideas  drawing  influences  from  other
disciplines such as Sociology,  Philosophy,  Linguistics  and  Anthropology.
There is no single identifying feature of Social Constructivism, instead  it
should be seen as a general approach, a movement or  "shared  consciousness"
(Gergen, 1985,  p.266).   However,  certain  fundamental  ideas  or  beliefs
constitute the constructivist approach.  Firstly,  the  idea  of  critiquing
all taken-for-granted knowledge asks the question 'how do we  know  what  we
know?' and 'is what we know the truth or  just  one  truth  in  a  world  of
competing truths?'  According to Johnson and Cassel (2001), this produces  a
paradox: a perpetual circular argument in which any theory of  knowledge  is
influenced by the conditions in which our knowledge  is  formed.   Therefore
true objectivity is impossible.  Secondly, the view that everything we  know
is dependent on epoch and  cultural  context.   Thirdly,  our  knowledge  is
created and sustained by our social interactions; our  versions  of  reality
become fabricated through everyday life relations.  Fourthly, our  knowledge
of the world we live in affects the way we act.  As Mills  (1959),  said  of
mankind "By the fact of his living he contributes however minutely,  to  the
shaping of his society and to the course of history, even as he is  made  by
society" (Mills, 1959.  p.6).   For  example,  Burr  (2000.  p.5)  uses  the
example of alcoholics; before alcoholism was recognised as an illness,  like
other  addictions,  the  treatment  of  alcoholics  consisted   largely   of
imprisonment.  Knowledge of alcoholism changed the way  society  dealt  with
alcoholics:  now   instead   of   imprisonment,   alcoholics   are   offered
counselling.  One of the main criticisms of  empirical  research,  according
to Parker (1989),  is  that  it  concerns  itself  predominantly  with  data
obtained under artificial conditions and as such cannot be accurate  as  the
act of gathering data itself influences the participant. With  the  adoption
of these general concepts, it is  easy  to  see  how  social  constructivism
comes into  conflict  with  the  more  traditional  empirical,  realist  and
positivist psychology.  However, it may not be the case that the  approaches
of Social Constructivism and Positivism are destined progress down  opposing
pathways; Psychology and science are not incongruent.

Positivism
Positivism can be defined as an approach to psychological enquiry  in  which
it is not possible to go  beyond  the  observable  world.   Therefore,  only
those questions that can be answered by  scientific  methodology  should  be
approached.  Positivism focuses on the objective observation  of  situations
for the purpose of formulating scientific laws.  The  scientific  method  of
positivism is based on the assumption that the human  is  a  complex  system
that  may  be  better  understood  and ... more

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A Critical Evaluation of Charles De Gaulle's Handling of the Algerian Insurrection

The 1950s was not a particularly good decade for France. The Fourth Republic, which had been established in the aftermath of the Second World War, remained unstable and lurched from crisis to crisis. Between 1946 and 1954, there had been a war in French Indo-China, between a nationalist force under Ho Chi Minh and the French. The war was long and bitter and towards the end, the French suffered the ignominy of losing the major fortress of Dien Bien Phu to the guerrillas on 7 May 1954. An armistice was sought with Ho Chi Minh, and the nations of North and South Vietnam emerged from the ashes of the colony. It is entirely likely that the success of the guerrillas influenced the Algerian insurrectionists, the National Liberation Front(FLN), in tactics and in the idea that the time was ripe to strike. It is clear that the FLN employed similar methods to those developed by the nationalists under Ho Chi Minh.1

For several months, France was at peace. The insurrection began on 1 November 1954. The insurrection precipitated the fall of the Fourth Republic. Charles de Gaulle, hero of the Second World War, became President of France in 1958, and was intent on securing a political solution to the insurrection, rather than one based on force. His efforts were largely successful in avoiding a civil war in France, and ending the insurgency - although it took four years to do so. It has been estimated that more than a million Algerians died in the insurrection.2

Before 1954, Algeria was not considered to be a French colony - rather it was seen as an integral part of France. The region was composed of departments, like those of the mainland. There were over a million white French nationals living in Algeria at the time and around eight million Muslims.3 This was a greater proportion of French nationals than in the other major North African colonies of France - Morocco, and Tunisia.4 Although there were benefits to remaining with France, the colonial administration was heavily weighed against the Muslims - particularly with regards to voting rights. In 1936, for instance, the Popular Front Government of Blum introduced legislation to the Assembly proposing to extend French citizenship to over twenty thousand Algerian Muslims.5 The initiative failed when all the European mayors of Algerian towns resigned in protest.

After the First World War, a number of Algerian political parties with nationalist interests began to emerge, one of the first being the Algerian Communist Party (an adjunct to the French Communist Party) in the 1920s.6 A number of other parties were formed and, much later, some coalesced into the Revolutionary Committee for Unity and Action (CRUA) in March 1954. This organisation was backed by President Nasser of Egypt and other countries of the Middle East.7 The leaders of the CRUA met in Switzerland on 10 October 1954, they created the FLN, and planned the rebellion to begin on 1 November.

The insurrection had continued for three and a half years before the end of the Fourth Republic. Between the start of the crisis and May 1958 (the fall of the Republic), there had been six different French governments.8 France had been at war more-or-less continuously since 1939. French public opinion was shifting, especially after the humiliating back-down from the attack on Egypt (which supported the Algerian FLN) in the Suez Crisis of 1956. There had also been revelations, despite censorship, that the French military was employing torture in the war.9 Concerns were growing about whether the military was fully under the control of the civilian government. Such concerns were exacerbated by the Faure Conspiracy. The conspiracy was discovered in January 1957, when the second in command of Algiers, General Faure, was discovered to be in contact with extremist European elements. He was sentenced to thirty days in confinement. It was believed there was a plot to kidnap Lacoste, the Resident Minister, and install a military government in Algeria.10

A rebellion was finally attempted on 13 May 1958 in Algiers. The Gaullists took control of the situation after hours of confusion. A Committee for Public Safety was established under General Massu. Shortly ... more

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