Tuffin offers an easy-to-read introduction to Critical Social Psychology. For those not familiar with this growing area of psychological research, ‘Understanding Critical Social Psychology’ is a reasonable place to start. However this book is not without its faults.
Tuffin raises objections to traditional social experimental research with its dubious use of deception, political neutrality in the face of human rights issues, and quantitative methodology that aims to mirror the natural sciences. Tuffin outlines an alternative social constructivist approach that makes use of Discourse Analysis (DA). This gets ‘inside the correlation,’ showing how people use talk and text to construct their social reality.
Unfortunately, Tuffin makes use of the straw-man technique of making cognitive psychology out to be useless, under achieving, and not relevant to studies of language and reality. Granted Discourse Analysis is adept at explaining the dynamics of rhetoric and the loaded meaning behind word-choices, however after attempting to dismantle cognitive and social theories that give rise to prejudice, the question remains: what motivates people to think such things? Perhaps Tuffin goes to far with the DA, ignoring how language is also a product of human nature, follows certain linguistic rules, and maps onto fixed realities (as well as constructing of course).