Encyclopedia of Critical Psychology

2014 Edition
| Editors: Thomas Teo

Difference, Overview

  • Lise Bird Claiborne
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-5583-7_652


Difference is a simple word, yet an incredibly difficult notion to pin down. As the discipline of psychology took shape late in the nineteenth century, traditional empirical studies focused on measuring differences between people in order to predict human behavior. By the mid-twentieth century, there were huge social upheavals globally as advocates for various human rights groups acquired a greater political voice. Many psychologists began to question earlier accounts of difference in various fields. This led to a reconsideration of categories around gender, ethnicity, age, disability, social class, and sexualities. However, this questioning still tended to maintain the place of the individual in psychology – with its hidden assumptions about the ideal rational and independent person from a dominant cultural group. Critical psychologists then drew from philosophical debates around notions of difference to further question the ontological basis for human life beyond notions...

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Online Resources

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  2. Feminism & Psychology Journal. http://www.sagepub.com/journals/Journal200868
  3. Psychology Politics Resistance website. http://www.discourseunit.com/psychology-politics-resistance/
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Human Development and Counselling Department; Center for Postgraduate StudiesUniversity of WaikatoHamiltonNew Zealand