What if Discipline Is Not Interdisciplinary? The Case of Social Psychology in India

  • Chetan SinhaEmail author
Regular Article


The present work highlight the missing picture of interdisciplinarity in Indian social psychology from a critical cultural perspective. In India, social psychologists’ tried to inculcate the missing picture of ‘indigenous perspective’ from the cultural vantage point. The idea of this article is to explain the problem with claimed indigenous status without critically handling the reified social categories such as social class, religion, gender, and caste. However, this was handled to some extent in other disciplines but a deeper connection was not observed to be with the social psychology in India. There were divides and differences in the explanation of the same issues and the theoretical and methodological stance of these different disciplines created a further gap in coming up with the meaningful construction.


Social psychology Interdisciplinarity Methodological individualism Disciplinary identity Metatheory India 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

No conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.


  1. Acitelli, L. K. (1995). Disciplines at parallel play. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 12(4), 589–596.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Adair, J.G. (2006). Creating indigenous psychologies: Insights from empirical social studies of the science of psychology. In U. Kim, K.S. Yang, & K.K. Hwang (Eds.), Indigenous and Cultural Psychology: Understanding people in context (pp. 467-485). New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  3. Adair, J. G., Kashima, Y., Maluf, M. R., & Pandey, J. (2007). Beyond indigenization: Asian psychology’s contribution to the world of psychology. In G. Zheng, K. Leung, & J. G. Adair (Eds.), Perspectives and progress in contemporary cross-cultural psychology (pp. 17–23). Beijing: China Light Industry Press.Google Scholar
  4. Adams, G., Ordonez, L. G., Kurtis, T., Molina, L. E., & Dobles, I. (2017). Notes on decolonizing psychology: From one special issue to another. South Africa Journal of Psychology, 47(4), 531–541.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Akerlof, G. A., & Kranton, R. E. (2010). Identity economics: How our identities shape our work, wage, and well-being. New Jersey: Princeton University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Arfken, M. (2018). From resisting neoliberalism to neoliberalizing resistance. Theory & Psychology, 28(5), 1–10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Arfken, M., & Yen, J. (2014). Psychology and social justice: Theoretical and philosophical engagements. Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology, 34(1), 1–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Augoustinos, M., & Walker, I. (1995). Social cognition: An integrated introduction. London: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  9. Bernardo, A. B., & Liu, J. H. (2018). Social engaged social psychology in Asia: Sustaining research progress in diverse directions. Journal of Pacific Rim Psychology, 12(6), 1–5.Google Scholar
  10. Bhargava, R. (2008). Individualism in social science: Forms and limits of a methodology. New Delhi: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Bhaskar, R., Danermark, B., & Price, L. (2018). Interdisciplinarity and wellbeing: A critical realist general theory of interdisciplinarity. London and New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  12. Bhatia, S. (2002). Orientalism in euro-American and Indian psychology: Historical representations of ‘natives’ in colonial and postcolonial context. History of Psychology, 5(4), 376–398.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Bhatia, S., & Priya, K. R. (2018). Decolonizing culture: Euro-American psychology and the shaping of neoliberal selves in India. Theory & Psychology, 28(5), 645–668.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Budd, M. (1988). Wittgenstein’s philosophy of psychology. London and New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  15. Chatterjee, P. (2008). Democracy and economic transformation in India. Economic & Political Weekly, April 19.Google Scholar
  16. Cherry, F. (1994). The stubborn particular of social psychology: Essays on the research process. Florence, KY, US: Taylor & Frances/Routledge.Google Scholar
  17. Dalal, A., & Misra, G. (2001). New directions in Indian psychology. New Delhi: Sage.Google Scholar
  18. Danzieger, K. (1990). Constructing the subject: Historical origins of psychological research. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Dirks, N. (2002). Castes of mind: Colonialism and the making of modern India. Delhi: Permanent Black.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Duveen, G. (2000). Introduction: The power of ideas. In G. Duveen (Ed.), Social representations: Studies in social psychology (pp. 1–17). Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  21. Efstathiou, S., & Mirmalek, Z. (2014). Interdisciplinarity in action. In Nancy. Cartwright & E. Montuschi (Eds.), Philosophy of social science: A new introduction (pp. 233–248). UK: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  22. Fiske, D & Shweder, R. A. (Eds) (1986). Introduction. In D. Fiske & R. A. Shweder (Eds.), Metatheory in social science: Pluralisms and subjectivities (pp 1–18). Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  23. Gattuso, R. (2018). Students strike, farmers march, and women rise: this week in India’s social movements. Retrieved from Accessed 7 Jan 2019.
  24. Geertz, C. (1973). The interpretation of cultures. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  25. Gergen, K. J. (1973). Social psychology as history. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 26(2), 309–320.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Gergen, K. J., Gulerce, A., Lock, A., & Misra, G. (1996). Psychological science in cultural context. American Psychologist, 51, 496–503.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Good, J. M., & Still, A. W. (1992). The idea of an interdisciplinary social psychology: An historical and rhetorical analysis. Canadian Psychology/Psychologie Canadienne, 33(3), 563–568.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Graff, H. J. (2016). The “problem” of interdisciplinarity in theory, practice, and history. Social Science History, 40, 775–803.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Gramsci, A. (1971). Selections from the prison notebooks. London: Lawrence and Wishart.Google Scholar
  30. Haig, B. (2014). Investigating the psychological world: Scientific Method in the Behavioral Sciences. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press.Google Scholar
  31. Hammersley, M. (2011). Methodology: Who needs it? London: Sage.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Heider, F. (1958). The psychology of interpersonal relations. New York: Wiley.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Hempel, C. G., & Oppenheim, P. (1948). Studies in the logic of explanation. Philosophy of Science, 15(2), 135–175.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Hook, D (2005). A critical psychology of the postcolonial [online]. London: LSE Research Online.Google Scholar
  35. Howarth, C., & Hook, D. (2005). Towards a critical social psychology of racism: Points of disruption. Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology, 15(6), 425–431.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Hutchinson, P., Read, R., & Sharrock, W. (2008). There is no such thing as a social science: In defence of Peter Winch. Hampshire: Ashgate Publishing Limited.Google Scholar
  37. Jacobs, J. A. (2013). In defense of disciplines: Interdisciplinarity and specialization in the research university. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  38. Jahoda, G. (2007). A history of social psychology: From the eighteenth-century enlightment to the second world war. UK: Cambridge University press.Google Scholar
  39. Jahoda, G. (2016). Seventy years of social psychology: A cultural and personal critique. Journal of Social and Political Psychology, 4(1), 364–380.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. James, W. (1890). The principles of psychology. New York: Holt.Google Scholar
  41. James, W. (1995). What pragmatism means? In G. Bird (Ed.), Selected writing: William James (pp. 3–19). London: Orion Publishing Group.Google Scholar
  42. Jantsch, E. (1970). Inter- and transdisciplinarity university: A systems approach to education and innovation. Policy Sciences, 1, 403–428.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Jasper, J. M. (2017). The doors that culture opened: Parallels between social movement studies and social psychology. Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, 20(3), 285–302.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Jost, J. T., & Kruglanski, A. W. (2002). The estrangement of social constructionism and experimental social psychology: History of the rift and prospects of reconciliation. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 6(3), 168–187.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Kagan, J. (2009). The three cultures: Natural sciences, social sciences and the humanities in the 21st century. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Kendler, H. H. (1986). Historical foundations of modern psychology. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.Google Scholar
  47. Klein, J. T. (1990). Interdisciplinarity: History, theory, and practice. Detroit, MI: Wayne State University Press.Google Scholar
  48. Klein, J. T. (1996). Crossing boundaries: Knowledge, disciplinarities, and interdisciplinarities. Chalottesville: University Press of Virginia.Google Scholar
  49. Klein, J. T. (2010). Creating interdisciplinary campus cultures: A model for strength and sustainability. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  50. Klein, J. T. (2014). Discourses of interdisciplinarity: Looking back to the future. Futures, 63, 68–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Kreber, C. (2009). Different perspectives on internationalization in higher education. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 118, 1–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Kumar, M. (2006). Rethinking psychology in India: Debating past and futures. Annual Review of Critical Psychology, 5, 236–256.Google Scholar
  53. Latour, B., & Woolgar. (1986). Laboratory life: The construction of scientific facts. New Jersey: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  54. Leary, D. E. (1990). Introduction. In D. E. Leary (Ed.), Metaphors in the history of psychology (pp. 1–78). New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  55. Liu, J. H. (2011). Asian epistemologies and contemporary social psychological research. In N. Denzin & Y. Lincoln (Eds.), Handbook of qualitative research (4th ed., pp. 213–226). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  56. Liu, J. H., & Macdonald, M. (2016). Towards a psychology of global consciousness through an ethical conception of self in society. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour, 46(3), 310–334.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Liu, J. H., Fisher, O. N., & Woodward, M. (2014). Symbologies, technologies, and identities: Critical junctures theory and the multi-layered nation-state. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 43, 2–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Martin, J. (2017). Studying persons in context: Taking social psychological reality seriously. New Ideas in Psychology, 44, 28–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Michell, J. (1999). Measurement in psychology: A critical history of a methodological concept. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Misra, G., & Prakash, A. (2012). Kenneth J. Gergen and social constructionism. Psychological Studies, 57(2), 121–125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Moscovici, S. (1988). Notes towards a description of social representations. European Journal of Social Psychology, 18, 211–250.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Moscovici, S. (1990). Questions for the twenty-first century. Theory & Psychology, 7, 1–19.Google Scholar
  63. Nam, H. H., Jost, J. T., Kaggen, L., Campbell-Meiklejohn, D., & Bavel, J. J. V. (2018). Amydala structure and the tendency to regard the system as legitimate and desirable. Nature Human Behaviour, 2, 133–138.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Nandy, A. (2007a). Time warps: The insistent politics of silent and evasive pasts. Delhi: Permanent Black.Google Scholar
  65. Nandy, A. (2007b). Towards an alternative politics of psychology. In A. Nandy, Time treks: The uncertain future of old and new despotism (p. 111–128). Delhi: Permanent Black.Google Scholar
  66. Nandy, A. (2011). Traditions, tyranny, and utopias: Essays in the politics of awareness. New Delhi: Oxford University press.Google Scholar
  67. Nisbet, R. A. (1962). Sociology as an art form. The Pacific Sociological Review, 5(2), 67–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Ogbu, J. U. (1992). Understanding cultural diversity and learning. Educational Researcher, 21(8), 5–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Ogbu, J. U. (1993). Differences in cultural frame of reference. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 16(3), 483–506.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Outhwaite, W. (1985). Hans-Georg Gadamer. Q. Skinner (Ed.), The return of grand theory in the human sciences. UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  71. Paranjpe, A. C. (1970). India: Caste, prejudice and the individual. Bombay: Lalvani Publishing House.Google Scholar
  72. Paranjpe, A. (1998). Self and identity in modern psychology and Indian thought. New York: Plenum.Google Scholar
  73. Parker, I. (1987). ‘Social representations’: Social psychology’s (misuse) of sociology. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour, 17(4), 447–469.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Parker, I. (1989). The crisis in modern social psychology and how to end it. London and New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  75. Picketty, T., & Goldhammer, A. (2017). Capital in the twenty first century. New York: Harvard University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Prabhu, P. H. (1954). Hindu social organization: A study in socio-psychological and ideological foundations. Bombay: Popular Prakashan.Google Scholar
  77. Quinones-Vidal, E., Lopez-Garcia, J. J., Penaranda-Ortega, M., & Tortosa-Gil, F. (2004). The nature of social and personality psychology as reflected in JPSP, 1965-2000. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 86(3), 435–452.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  78. Raina, D. (2011). Instituions and knowledge: Framing the translation of science in colonial South Asia. Asiatische Studien/ Etudes Asiatiques, 65(4), 945–967.Google Scholar
  79. Reicher, S. (1997). Laying the ground for a common critical psychology. In T. Ibanez & L. Iniguez (Eds.), Critical social psychology (pp. 83–94). London: Sage.Google Scholar
  80. Reicher, S., & Hopkins, N. (2001). Self and nation: Categorization, contestation and mobilization. London: Sage Publications.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Rose, N. (1996). Inventing our selves: Psychology, power, and personhood. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Rose, N., & Abi-Rached, J. M. (2013). Neuro: The new brain science and the management of the mind. Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. Said, E. W. (1978). Orientalism. New York: Vintage.Google Scholar
  84. Sen, A. (1985). Development as freedom. New Delhi: Oxford university press.Google Scholar
  85. Sewell, W. H. (1989). Some reflections on the golden age of interdisciplinary social psychology. Social Psychology Quarterly, 52(2), 88–97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  86. Shweder, R. A. (1995). The confession of a methodological individualist. Culture & Psychology, 1, 115–122.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  87. Singh, R., Gupta, M., & Dalal, A. K. (1979) Cultural difference in attribution of performance: An intergration-theoretical analysis. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 37 (8), 1342–1351.Google Scholar
  88. Sinha, C. (2016). Decolonizing social psychology in India: Exploring its role as emancipatory social science. Psychology & Society, 8(1), 57–74.Google Scholar
  89. Sinha, C. (2017). Note on “History of psychology in India: Problems and prospects”. History of Psychology, 20 (1), 126–128.
  90. Sinha, J. B. P., & Kumar, R. (2004). Methodology for understanding Indian culture. The Copenhagen Journal of Asian Studies, 19, 90–104.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  91. Smith, R. (1988). Does the history of psychology have a subject? History of the Human Sciences, 1(2), 147–177.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  92. Smokler, H. (1983). Institutional rationality: The complex norms of science. Synthese, 57(2), 129–138.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  93. Sorokin, P. (1954). Fads and foibles in modern sociology. Chicago: Regnery.Google Scholar
  94. Srinivasan, N., Hopkins, N., Reicher, S. D., Sammyh, S. K., Singh, T., & Levine, M. (2013). Social meaning of ambiguous sounds influences retrospective duration judgment. Psychological Science, 24(6), 1060–1062.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  95. Srinivasan, N., Tewari, S., Makwana, M., & Hopkins, N. P. (2015). Attention mediates the effect of context-relevant social meaning on prospective duration judgments. Timing & Time Perception, 3, 189–200.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  96. Suar, D., & Puhan, B. N. (2010). Quantitative methods in psychology. In G. Misra (Ed.), Psychology in India: Theoretical and methodological developments (Vol 4) (pp. 273–338). Delhi: Pearson.Google Scholar
  97. Tajfel, H. (1969). The formation of national attitudes: A social psychological perspective. In M. Sheriff (ed.), Interdisciplinary relationships in the social science. Chicago: Aldine.Google Scholar
  98. Tiwari, S., Khan, S., Hopkins, N., Srinivasan, N., & Reicher, S. (2012). Participation in mass gatherings can benefit well-being: Longitudinal and control data from a north Indian Hindu pilgrimage event. PLoS One, 7(10), e47291 Scholar
  99. Tyler, T. R. (2006). Psychological perspectives on legitimacy and legitimation. Annual Review of Psychology, 57, 375–400.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  100. Valsiner, J. (2001). Contemplating self: From India to contemporary self-psychology. Culture & Psychology, 7(1), 115–118.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  101. Valsiner, J. (2012). A guided science: History of psychology in the mirror of its making. New Brunswick and London: Transaction Publishers.Google Scholar
  102. Wexler, P. (1983). Critical social psychology. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
  103. Winch, P. (1990). The idea of a social science and its relation to philosophy. London: Rutledge.Google Scholar
  104. Zelliot, E. (2001). From untouchability to Dalit: Essays on the Ambedkar Movement. New Delhi: Manohar Publishers.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.O P Jindal Global UniversitySonipatIndia

Personalised recommendations