James McElvenny

Affiliation: 

University of Sydney

The socio-political implications of behaviourism and the Chomskyan revolution in linguistics

A key aspect of the ‘Chomskyan revolution’ of the late 1950s and early 60s – through which generative grammar became established as the dominant paradigm of linguistics in America and the wider world – was the rejection of behaviourist psychology, a received doctrine of the previously dominant approach of American structuralism. While Chomsky directed his academic attacks at what he saw as behaviourism’s scientific inadequacy, there was also a strong social and political dimension to his position.