Jerome Bruner on fragmentation and ‘sealing in’ within psychology

… [The science of mind] has become fragmented as never before in its history. It has lost its center and risks losing the cohesion needed to assure the internal exchange that might justify a division of labor between its parts. And the parts, each with its own organizational identity, its own theoretical apparatus, and often its own journals, have become specialties whose products become less and less exportable. Too often they seal themselves within their own rhetoric and with their own parish of authorities. This self-sealing risks making each part (and the aggregate that increasingly constitues psychology’s patchquilt whole) ever more remote from other inquiries dedicated to the undestanding of mind and the human condition—inquiries in the humanities or in the other social sciences.

It is not surprising, then, that a reaction has set in against the narrowing and “sealing in” that are afflicting psychology. The wider intellectual community comes increasingy to ignore our journals, which seem to outsiders principally to contain intellectually unsituated little studies, each a response to a handful of like little studies. Inside psychology there is a worried restlessness about the state of our discipline, and the beginning of a new search for means of reformulating it. In spite of the prevaling ethos of “neat little studies,” and of what Gordon Allport once called methodolatry, the great psychological questions are being raised once again—questions about the nature of mind and its processes, questions about how we construct our meanings and our realities, questions about the shaping of mind by history and culture. (pp. ix-xi)

Bruner, J. (1990). Acts of meaning. Cambridge, Ma: Harvard University Press.


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