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Title: The myth of Kurt Lewin and the rhetoric of collective memory in social psychology textbooks
Authors: Billig, Michael
Keywords: Kurt Lewin
Collective memory
Social psychology textbooks
History of social psychology
Issue Date: 2015
Publisher: SAGE Publications
Citation: BILLIG, M., 2015. The myth of Kurt Lewin and the rhetoric of collective memory in social psychology textbooks. Theory & Psychology, 25(6), pp.703-718.
Abstract: This paper examines how social psychology textbooks represent Kurt Lewin and his contribution to social psychology. Many textbooks describe Lewin as the father of social psychology, using a conventional, passive voiced trope to do so. The rhetorical meaning of this trope is analysed to show that textbooks are invoking a collective memory, which closes down views of the past, rather than making a historical argument, which opens up the past for examination. This depiction of Lewin typically involves forgetting his critical views about statistics and experimentation. When textbooks cite Lewin’s famous motto “there is nothing as practical as a good theory”, they tend to ascribe it a special status. In doing so, they change its meaning subtly and treat it as a truth that needs no empirical validation. By their rhetoric, omissions and avoidance of historical sources, textbooks recreate Lewin as a mythic figure rather than a historical one.
Description: This paper was accepted for publication in the journal Theory & Psychology and the definitive published version is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0959354315594255
Version: Accepted for publication
DOI: 10.1177/0959354315594255
URI: https://dspace.lboro.ac.uk/2134/18179
Publisher Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0959354315594255
ISSN: 0959-3543
Appears in Collections:Published Articles (Communication, Media, Social and Policy Studies)

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