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Critical Psychology

Critical Psychology
Editor:
Critical Psychology is an approach rather than a Editor:
theory, an orientation towards psychological

Copyright © 2014. Juta and Company. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher, except fair uses permitted under U.S.
knowledge and practice, an to relations of power.
It cuts across the various sub-disciplines and includes
diverse theoretical perspectives and forms of practice.
Derek Hook

Derek Hook
This exciting text offer a broad and flexible Section Editors:
introduction to critical psychology and explores the
socio-political contexts of post-apartheid South Africa.
It expands on the theoretical resources usually Nhlanhla Mkhize
referred to in the field of critical psychology e.g.
Marxism, Psychoanalysis, Post-structuralism and
Feminism by providing substantive discussions on
Peace Kiguwa
Black Consciousness, Post-colonialism and Africanist
forms of critique. Anthony Collins

Critical Psychology
Critical Psychology contains a wealth of material,
and critical perspectives spread across theoretical, Consulting Editors:
practical and distinctly South African levels of
application, featuring chapters on racism, community
development, HIV/Aids as well as participatory action Erica Burman
forms of research.\
The Editors:
Ian Parker
Derek Hook, formerly of the Psychology Department
at the University of the Witwatersrand, is a lecturer in
Social Psychology at the London School of Economics.
He has acted as co-editor of Psychopathology and Social
Prejudice (2002) and Developmental Psychology (2002)
- both University of Cape Town Press titles.
Nhlanhla Mkhize teaches in the Psychology
Department at the University of KwaZulu-Natal,
Pietermaritzburg.
Peace Kiguwa teaches in the Psychology Department,
School of Human and Community Development,
University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.
Anthony Collins teaches in the Psychology Department
at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.
Erica Burman is Professor of Psychology and Women’s
Studies at Manchester Metropolitan University, UK.

or applicable copyright law.
Ian Parker is a Professor of Psychology in the Discourse
Unit at Manchester Metropolitan University, UK.

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Critical Psychology

Editor:
Derek Hook

Section Editors:
Nhlanhla Mkhize
Peace Kiguwa
Anthony Collins

Consulting Editors:
Erica Burman
Ian Parker
or applicable copyright law.

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Introduction to Critical Psychology
First edition 2014
First print published 2013

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Contents

Contributors.......................................................................................................... xi

Section 1: Theoretical resources ......................................................... 1
Summary ................................................................................... 2
Anthony Collins
1 Critical psychology: The basic co-ordinates ................................ 10
Derek Hook
Learning outcomes ...................................................................................... 10
Critical psychology as orientation rather than theory................................. 11
Theory, context, practice: Three points of focus ......................................... 11
Power and psychology ................................................................................. 12
Psychology as ideological ............................................................................ 14
A politics of knowledge and subjectivity ..................................................... 15
Psychology as a powerful form of knowledge.............................................. 15
Psychological imperialism ........................................................................... 16
Depoliticising experience ............................................................................ 18
Ways of knowing ourselves.......................................................................... 18
Psychology as politics .................................................................................. 19
‘Psychopolitics’ ............................................................................................ 20
A South African critical psychology ............................................................ 20
2 Psychology: An African perspective ............................................... 24
Nhlanhla Mkhize
Learning outcomes ...................................................................................... 24
Introduction ................................................................................................ 25
The context of psychology in developing societies ...................................... 25
The knowing subject: The self in traditional psychology ............................ 26
The nature of knowledge: Western psychology and the place of values ...... 27
Links with critical psychology ..................................................................... 28
Indigenous psychologies.............................................................................. 28
Do we need an African-based psychology?.................................................. 30
An African metaphysical system ................................................................. 35
The notion of vitality or life force................................................................ 42
or applicable copyright law.

The principle of cosmic unity...................................................................... 44
Communal life and personhood.................................................................. 46
Criticisms of the ‘self-in-community’ .......................................................... 48
The family community ................................................................................ 48
Personhood as a process.............................................................................. 49
Conclusion................................................................................................... 50

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Critical thinking tasks ................................................................................. 51
Recommended readings .............................................................................. 52

3 Sociocultural approaches to psychology:
Dialogism and African conceptions of the self ............................ 53
Nhlanhla Mkhize
Learning outcomes ...................................................................................... 53
Introduction ................................................................................................ 54
Vygotsky and the social origins of mental functioning................................ 54
Bakhtin’s dialogism ..................................................................................... 59
The dialogical self........................................................................................ 70
The dialogical self: Comparisons with African approaches......................... 75
Critical thinking tasks ................................................................................. 83
Recommended readings .............................................................................. 83

4 Frantz Fanon, Steve Biko, ‘psychopolitics’ and
critical psychology ............................................................................... 84
Derek Hook
Learning outcomes ...................................................................................... 84
Introduction: The ‘psychopolitics’ of Fanon................................................ 85
The politics of psychology in the colonial context....................................... 88
Psychology and the politics of resistance..................................................... 104
Criticisms of Fanon and Biko ...................................................................... 109
Conclusion................................................................................................... 112
Critical thinking tasks ................................................................................. 113
Recommended readings .............................................................................. 113

5 Fanon and the psychoanalysis of racism ...................................... 115
Derek Hook
Learning outcomes ...................................................................................... 115
Introduction: The psychological analysis of power ..................................... 116
The ‘psychic life of colonial power’.............................................................. 116
The phobogenic object ................................................................................ 122
Fanon’s psychoanalytic interpretation of racism......................................... 130
Conclusion................................................................................................... 137
Critical thinking tasks ................................................................................. 138
Recommended readings .............................................................................. 138
or applicable copyright law.

6 Psychoanalysis and critical psychology ........................................ 139
Ian Parker
Learning outcomes ...................................................................................... 139
Introduction ................................................................................................ 140
What is, and what is not, psychoanalysis? .................................................. 143

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Essentialist psychoanalysis: Opportunities and dangers............................. 147
Pragmatic psychoanalysis: Questioning subjectivity and history................ 152
Cultural psychoanalysis: Working inside and alongside its discourse......... 158
Conclusions and connections ..................................................................... 161
Critical thinking tasks ................................................................................. 161
Recommended readings .............................................................................. 161

7 Marxism and critical psychology ....................................................... 162
Grahame Hayes
Learning outcomes ...................................................................................... 162
Introduction ................................................................................................ 163
Defining Marxism ....................................................................................... 165
Social theory, and a theory of the social ...................................................... 176
The lived experience (materialist psychology) of everyday life.................... 179
Conclusion................................................................................................... 185
Critical thinking tasks ................................................................................. 185
Recommended readings .............................................................................. 186

8 Psychology and the regulation of gender ...................................... 187
Tamara Shefer
Learning outcomes ...................................................................................... 187
Introduction ................................................................................................ 188
Psychology’s role in the construction of sex/gender difference................... 189
Pathologising and regulatory discourses in psychology .............................. 196
Retheorising gender difference? A feminist post-structuralist account
of gender .................................................................................................. 198
Conclusion................................................................................................... 207
Critical thinking tasks ................................................................................. 208
Recommended readings .............................................................................. 208

9 Foucault, disciplinary power and the critical pre-history
of psychology .......................................................................................... 210
Derek Hook
Learning outcomes ...................................................................................... 210
Introduction ................................................................................................ 211
Pre-disciplinary eras of power ..................................................................... 213
or applicable copyright law.

Disciplinary power ...................................................................................... 216
Psychology as disciplinary apparatus .......................................................... 228
Critiquing Foucault’s notion of disciplinary power ..................................... 233
Conclusion................................................................................................... 236
Critical thinking tasks ................................................................................. 237
Suggested readings ...................................................................................... 237

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10 Governmentality and technologies of subjectivity ..................... 239
Derek Hook
Learning outcomes ...................................................................................... 239
Introduction ................................................................................................ 240
The notion of governmentality.................................................................... 241
Technologies of subjectivity......................................................................... 262
Conclusion................................................................................................... 271
Critical thinking tasks ................................................................................. 271
Recommended readings .............................................................................. 271

Section 2: The South African context ............................................... 273
Summary .................................................................................. 274
Peace Kiguwa

11 Feminist critical psychology in South Africa ................................ 278
Peace Kiguwa
Learning outcomes ...................................................................................... 278
Introduction ................................................................................................ 279
Critical psychology and feminist practice.................................................... 286
Questioning research................................................................................... 289
The ‘liberal’ tradition in psychology............................................................ 292
Focusing on developmental psychology ...................................................... 294
Feminism in an African context .................................................................. 296
Prospects and challenges for feminist theory and practice in Africa:
Focus on HIV/Aids .................................................................................. 299
Essentialism in theory: Psychology’s engagement with difference .............. 306
Feminist psychology and post-colonial theory ............................................ 311
Conclusion................................................................................................... 314
Critical thinking tasks ................................................................................. 314
Recommended readings .............................................................................. 315

12 Critical reflections on community and psychology in
South Africa ............................................................................................. 316
Thabani Ngonyama Ka Sigogo & Oscar Tso Modipa
Learning outcomes ...................................................................................... 316
Introduction: Thinking about ‘communities’ .............................................. 317
or applicable copyright law.

Philosophical assumptions.......................................................................... 320
Critical community practice ........................................................................ 324
Africanist community practice .................................................................... 329
Critical community research methods ........................................................ 331
Summary..................................................................................................... 333
Critical thinking questions .......................................................................... 334

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13 The role of collective action in the prevention of
HIV/Aids in South Africa .................................................................... 335
Catherine Campbell
Learning outcomes ...................................................................................... 335
Introduction: What do we mean by ‘critical’ health psychology?................ 336
What are the drivers of social change? ........................................................ 337
How does participation in collective action impact on the sexual health
of a community? ...................................................................................... 339
Towards a ‘social psychology of participation’ ............................................ 341
Case study: Peer education by commercial sex workers in South Africa ..... 351
Conclusion................................................................................................... 356
Critical thinking tasks ................................................................................. 359
Recommended readings .............................................................................. 359

14 South African psychology and racism:
Historical determinants and future prospects .............................. 360
Norman Duncan, Garth Stevens & Brett Bowman
Learning outcomes ...................................................................................... 360
Introduction ................................................................................................ 361
Psychology and racism prior to 1994 .......................................................... 362
Psychology and racism: Post-1994............................................................... 379
Conclusion................................................................................................... 387
Critical thinking tasks ................................................................................. 388
Recommended readings .............................................................................. 388

15 About black psychology....................................................................... 389
Kopano Ratele
Learning outcomes ...................................................................................... 389
Introduction: Inside outsiders, black conscious critical psychology ........... 390
The birth of black US-American psychology ............................................... 390
Psychologists sans a psychology .................................................................. 398
Conclusion................................................................................................... 412
Creative thinking tasks ................................................................................ 413
Recommended readings .............................................................................. 414

Section 3: Forms of practice ................................................................. 415
Summary .................................................................................. 416
or applicable copyright law.

Nhlanhla Mkhize
16 Activity Theory as a framework for psychological
research and practice in developing societies ............................. 425
Hilde van Vlaenderen & David Neves
Learning outcomes ...................................................................................... 425
Introduction ................................................................................................ 426

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The irrelevance of psychology ..................................................................... 427
People-centred development as a paradigm for the critical psychologist.... 427
Activity Theory............................................................................................ 431
Development interventions as Activity systems and the role of the
psychologist in ‘learning by expanding’................................................... 437
Case study: Facilitating development .......................................................... 438
Conclusion................................................................................................... 443
Critical thinking tasks ................................................................................. 443
Recommended readings .............................................................................. 444

17 Participatory Action Research and local knowledge in
community contexts ............................................................................. 445
Hilde van Vlaenderen & David Neves
Learning outcomes ...................................................................................... 445
Introduction ................................................................................................ 446
Psychology and development ...................................................................... 446
The role of local knowledge in people-centred development ...................... 451
Participatory Action Research ..................................................................... 454
Conclusion: The challenges of being a Participatory Action Researcher ..... 462
Critical thinking tasks ................................................................................. 463
Recommended readings .............................................................................. 464

18 Community psychology: Emotional processes in political
subjects ..................................................................................................... 465
Kerry Gibson & Leslie Swartz
Learning outcomes ...................................................................................... 465
Introduction ................................................................................................ 466
Community psychology and psychoanalysis: An unlikely partnership? ..... 468
The significance of emotion in community psychology .............................. 471
Emotional pain and the investment in power ............................................. 479
Emotional and structural power.................................................................. 482
Conclusion................................................................................................... 483
Critical thinking tasks ................................................................................. 486
Recommended readings .............................................................................. 486

19 Discursive practice: Analysing a Lovelines text on
or applicable copyright law.

sex communication for parents ......................................................... 487
Lindy Wilbraham
Learning outcomes ...................................................................................... 487
Introduction ................................................................................................ 488
Theoretical framework ................................................................................ 488
Methodology matters .................................................................................. 494

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The text ....................................................................................................... 502
Discourse analysis ....................................................................................... 505
Disciplining adolescents.............................................................................. 512
Constituting safe families ............................................................................ 517
Concluding comments ................................................................................ 518
Critical thinking tasks ................................................................................. 520
Recommended readings .............................................................................. 521

20 Writing into action: The critical research endeavour ................ 523
Catriona Macleod
Learning outcomes ...................................................................................... 523
Introduction: Critical psychology and the politics of research .................... 524
Theory and method..................................................................................... 525
The posing of research questions ................................................................ 527
Investigative practices ................................................................................. 529
Researcher reflexivity................................................................................... 532
Knowledge dissemination and social action................................................ 535
Conclusion................................................................................................... 538
Critical thinking tasks ................................................................................. 538
Recommended readings .............................................................................. 539

21 Human development in ‘underdeveloped’ contexts .................... 540
Mambwe Kasese-Hara
Learning outcomes ...................................................................................... 540
Introduction ................................................................................................ 541
Development: A sociocultural perspective .................................................. 542
Defining ‘underdeveloped’ contexts............................................................ 545
‘Underdevelopment’ and minority group contexts ..................................... 547
Locating studies of human development in the African context................. 549
Conclusion................................................................................................... 557
Critical thinking tasks ................................................................................. 557
Recommended readings .............................................................................. 558

22 Liberation psychology .......................................................................... 559
Don Foster
Learning outcomes ...................................................................................... 559
or applicable copyright law.

Introduction ................................................................................................ 560
Central concerns.......................................................................................... 561
Emancipation and utopia ............................................................................ 569
Modernity and its ills .................................................................................. 572
Psychology and its vicissitudes.................................................................... 575
The psychology of oppression ..................................................................... 582

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Psychological consequences of oppression.................................................. 585
Towards an emancipatory psychology ........................................................ 590
Pitfalls and obstacles ................................................................................... 598
Concluding remarks .................................................................................... 601
Critical thinking tasks ................................................................................. 601
Recommended readings .............................................................................. 602

Bibliography ....................................................................................................... 603

Index................................................................................................................... 645
or applicable copyright law.

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Contributors

Brett Bowman is a researcher at the Institute for Social and Health Sciences of
the University of South Africa, Pretoria. His current research interests include
the investigation of race, racism and other social asymmetries in post-
apartheid South Africa. His PhD research is a genealogical examination of
South African paedophiles. He is the co-editor of a multimedia CD-Rom (1999)
entitled From method to madness: Five years of qualitative enquiry, published
by Histories of the Present Press.

Catherine Campbell is an External Professor at the University of KwaZulu-
Natal, although she lectures in the department of Social Psychology at the
London School of Economics. Her current research interests focus closely on
issues of community intervention and the politics of HIV/Aids in Southern
Africa. She is the author of Letting them die: how HIV/AIDS prevention
programmes often fail (2003) published by Double Storey/Juta.

Anthony Collins is a lecturer in Psychology at the University of KwaZulu-Natal,
Durban where he is the co-ordinator of the UND Psychology and Society
Masters programme. He is a Fulbright scholar with degrees in Psychology
(Rhodes) and Cultural Studies (University of California). He has a long-
standing interest in Critical Psychology with a specific research focus on
violence and trauma in South Africa.

Norman Duncan holds an Associate Professorship at the Institute for Social
and Health Sciences at the University of South Africa, Pretoria. He is the
current Editor of the South African Journal of Psychology and has acted as co-
editor on a number of books, including ‘Race’, racism, knowledge production
and psychology in South Africa (New York: Nova Science Publishers, 2001).

Don Foster is Professor of Psychology and Head of Department at the Univer-
sity of Cape Town. His main research areas are the psychology of interrogation
and torture, policing, and explaining human rights abuses. He has published
more than a hundred academic works, in local and international journals, and
or applicable copyright law.

presented more than sixty papers at local and international conferences. His
books include Detention and torture in South Africa (David Phillip, Cape
Town, 1987), Mental health policy issues for South Africa (MASA, Pinelands,
1997). Professor Foster has bachelors and honours degrees from Stellenbosch
University, a master’s degree from the University of London, and obtained his
PhD at Cambridge University.

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Johannesburg.) from Manchester University (UK) and a BA in Social Sciences (University of Zambia). Durban. His research interests are the early history of psychoanalysis in South Africa. Grahame Hayes lectures at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. as well as developing a social theory (Marxism) of human agency. Critical Psychology Account: s7393698 . A co-editor of Psychopathology and Social Prejudice and Developmental Psychology (both of UCT Press. Derek. and recent work includes Counselling and coping (with Leslie Swartz and Rob Sandenbergh. stretching from political applications of psychoanalysis. His PhD focussed on technologies of power in psychotherapy. he maintains a variety of research inter- ests. focused around the life and work of Wulf Sachs. She has a PhD from Durham University (UK). in the School of Human and Community Development at the University of the Witwatersrand. HSRC Press. Juta and Company. Kerry Gibson is a Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Cape Town. except fair uses permitted under U. Her major areas of research interest are adolescent sexual and reproductive health and inclusive education. She is interested in the applications of psychoanalytic thinking to organ- isations and organisational change in South Africa. an M. All rights reserved. Derek Hook was. Oxford University Press. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher.S. Mambwe Kasese-Hara is currently a lecturer in Developmental and Health Psychology. xii EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) . He is currently a lecturer at the London School of Economics. She has published widely on these issues.printed on 8/14/2016 9:18 AM via UNISA AN: 706996 .CP_Prelims 11/2/04 4:37 pm Page xii Copyright © 2014. He was one of the founding editors of PINS (Psychology in Society). to the history of postcolonial theory and Foucaultian notions of power. Peace Kiguwa is a tutor in Psychology at the School of Human and Community Development at the University of the Witwatersrand. Catriona Macleod obtained her undergraduate and PhD degrees from the or applicable copyright law. until recently. She is currently working as a senior lecturer in the Psychology Department of the University of Fort Hare. honours and masters from the University of Cape Town. and her HDE.. Her MA thesis was entitled ‘Constructing subjectivity: Young black women’s re-defini- tions of self ’. She has recently completed a doctoral dissertation which explores psychodynamic issues in service organi- sations in South Africa. University of KwaZulu-Natal. and Reflective practice: Psychodynamic ideas in the community (co-edited with Leslie Swartz and Tamara Gelman.Ed. and is currently the journal’s managing editor. East London. a lecturer in Psychology at the University of the Witwatersrand. 2002). Her research interests centre on gender and race identity. 2002). (Special Ed. He has acted as editor on special editions of Psychology in Society and South African Journal of Psychology. 2002). Hook.

especially those approaches informed by the works of Vygotsky and Bakhtin. His interests lie in community activism and in Africanist perspectives on community psychology as it is practiced in South Africa. Derek. His research interests include violence and its prevention as well as studies in social inequality and difference in the context of racialised social formations. 1997) and Critical discursive psychology (Palgrave. Her research and published works have been primarily in the area of gender.. except fair uses permitted under U.CP_Prelims 11/2/04 4:37 pm Page xiii Copyright © 2014. Pretoria. His main areas of interest are indigenous psychologies. Hook. Nhlanhla Mkhize is a registered counselling psychologist. power and difference: Discourse analysis in South Africa (co-edited with Ann Levett. epistemology and research methods. xiii EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) . He has published in the American Journal of Community Psychology. She also has a strong interest and teaching experience in the areas of feminist and qualitative research methodologies and philosophical and political issues in research. or applicable copyright law. Thabani Ngonyama Ka Sigogo is a community psychologist who teaches in Psychology in the School of Human Community Development at the Univer- sity of the Witwatersrand. Pietermaritzburg. David Neves is a registered research psychologist who has lived and worked in Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. He is managing editor of Annual Review of Critical Psychology and his books include Culture. Amanda Kottler and Erica Burman. Tamara Shefer is currently Director of Women and Gender Studies and Asso- ciate Professor of Psychology at the University of the Western Cape. All rights reserved. His areas of teaching are masculinity. Cape Town. Critical Psychology Account: s7393698 . He teaches Psychology at the University of Natal. His research interests and external research consultancy work have centred on cognition and social development. Kopano Ratele lectures in the Psychology Department at the University of the Western Cape. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher. Garth Stevens is a clinical psychologist and researcher at the Institute for Social and Health Sciences at the University of South Africa. Ian Parker is Professor of Psychology in the Discourse Unit at Manchester Metropolitan University in the United Kingdom. UCT Press and Zed Books. social psychology. power and sexualities and she has also been co-editor of two South African texts directed at authorship development: Contemporary issues in human development and Discourses on difference. moral and ethical decision-making. discourses on oppression.S. and sociocultural psychology.printed on 8/14/2016 9:18 AM via UNISA AN: 706996 . Juta and Company. Cape Town. 2002).

She is currently doing research in social psychological aspects of tuberculosis and HIV/Aids in the Health Systems Research Unit. Oxford University Press. Medical Research Council. Despite engaging in research within the crushing realities of South African health services. 1997). where she lectured in research methodology for 12 years. All rights reserved. HSRC Press. Cape Town. She uses Activity Theory as a framework for much of her work. Grahamstown. Grahamstown. she is still a passionate discourse analyst. Hook. and the challenges and opportunities that diversity presents to services. Derek. Leslie Swartz is Professor of Psychology at the University of Stellenbosch and Director of Child. Counselling and coping (with Kerry Gibson and Rob Sandenbergh. local knowledge and organi- sational development. South Africa. Developmental and Health Psycholo- gies – and qualitative research methodologies – at the Universities of Cape Town and Durban-Westville. He is currently co-editing a volume on human occupation and social transformation as well as an introductory under- graduate psychology text for students in South Africa and developing countries. 2002). or applicable copyright law. Oscar Tso Modipa is a community psychologist with interests in cross-cultural and social psychology. xiv EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) . and at Rhodes University.CP_Prelims 11/2/04 4:37 pm Page xiv Copyright © 2014. Recent publications include Culture and mental health: A southern African view (Oxford University Press. Lindy Wilbraham has lectured in Social. Hilde van Vlaenderen obtained her PhD degree from Rhodes University. 2002) and Reflective practice: Psychodynamic ideas in the community (co-edited with Kerry Gibson and Tamara Gelman. She currently lives in France.. where she works as an independent international researcher and consultant. He teaches in the School of Human and Community Development at the University of the Witwatersrand.printed on 8/14/2016 9:18 AM via UNISA AN: 706996 . May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher.S. Youth and Family Development with the Human Sciences Research Council. He is interested in challenges related to the provision of health and social security services in low-resource contexts. Critical Psychology Account: s7393698 . She has worked in several African countries and her research and teaching interests focus on participatory community development. except fair uses permitted under U. Juta and Company.

CP_Chap01 11/2/04 10:41 am Page 1 Section 1 Copyright © 2014.S. saying what must be done.. dissociates. Hook.’ Michel Foucault or applicable copyright law. suggesting a future. Juta and Company. EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) . at the very level of its existence. thought. Derek. Theoretical resources ‘Thought is no longer theoretical. unites or reunites. in its very dawning. except fair uses permitted under U. even before exhorting or merely sounding an alarm. Critical Psychology Account: s7393698 . breaks. Even before prescribing. it offends or reconciles. All rights reserved. attracts or repels.printed on 8/6/2016 5:12 AM via UNISA AN: 706996 . It cannot help but liberate and enslave. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher. As soon as it functions. is in itself an action – a perilous act.

Juta and Company.. Critical Psychology Account: s7393698 . which sees facts as the starting point and theoretical interpretation of those facts as a late and relatively minor part of the production of knowledge. all show up the tradi- tional assumptions about the truthfulness of certain psychological ideas. The primary problem is not finding out new facts but rather reinterpreting how things are under- stood and showing the implications of those forms of understanding. Derek. Anthony Collins It makes sense that this book should begin with a section entitled ‘Theoretical resources’ for. How do we think beyond the categories we were taught to think with? How do we escape the limits of our own ideas. permit new ways of speaking.printed on 8/6/2016 5:12 AM via UNISA AN: 706996 . new ways of imagining oneself. and new ways of conducting one’s life. critical psychology is interested in the theories themselves. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher. showing how elements from one prob- or applicable copyright law. The following chapters. In questioning traditional claims to authority. One of the problems is that challenging received forms of knowledge is no easy task. All explanations are interpretations – those that deny this by making claims to universal scientific truth are simply made more dangerous by their attempt to hide their own perspective. especially where the consequences are quite different from those that the supporters of that approach might have wished. All rights reserved. to have the final say in explaining or defining things and. exploring the effects of different assumptions. ideas. But all of these necessarily involve working at a higher level of intellec- tual abstraction than everyday thought or even scientific research requires. pathologised. To claim to speak the truth is to claim authority. and allow different people to speak. except fair uses permitted under U. and the questioning of ideas is the first step in asserting new values. in different ways. marginalised or otherwise oppressed. concepts and interpretations. They involve complex explorations of the interrelations between ideas and the 2 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) . critical psychology does not begin with the scientific project of gathering new data but rather with exam- ining the ways in which existing knowledge is organised. Yet a third is simply to show the consequences of taking an approach to its logical extreme. explained away. critical psychology seeks clear spaces for those who have been silenced. Critical psychology begins by rejecting the assumption that there can be such a thing as a neutral presentation of objective facts. both within a particular conceptual system and using one part against the other.CP_Chap01 11/2/04 10:41 am Page 2 Summary Copyright © 2014. lematise elements of the other. Another is to use two systems against each other. ignored. In this. those that are so ingrained that we have come to accept them as common sense? One way is to highlight contradictions. Hook. the challenge to traditional knowledge is a challenge to those in power.S. unlike mainstream psychology. most importantly. Unlike traditional psychological science. to silence all those who would say things differently. and in such spaces to open up discussions. especially those that are most taken for granted. new freedoms.

complex or unneces- sarily esoteric. although critical psychology can be hard work. it has imposed itself unthinkingly on other cultures. and applicable to local problems.. or applicable copyright law.printed on 8/6/2016 5:12 AM via UNISA AN: 706996 . Psychology. inequality. Critical Psychology Account: s7393698 . Furthermore. For what is at stake is not just more or different knowledge. effects of conceptual systems. While trivialising the knowledges developed in other cultures by dismissing them as ‘primitive’. Hook. and the development of elaborate analyses that show complex connections between a wide range of ideas. a product of Western cosmology. showing the importance of producing frameworks that are consis- tent with local experiences and worldviews. deprivation and neglect there is much to be done.CP_Chap01 11/2/04 10:41 am Page 3 Summary: Theoretical resources Copyright © 2014. Mkhize shows how the overwhelmingly Western bias of psychological training in South Africa leaves professionals ill-equipped to deal with local problems. is a victim of a profound conceptual narcissism. often highly technical – and some- times just plain difficult – concepts. Mkhize then goes on in chapter 3 (Sociocultural approaches to psychology: Dialogism and African conceptions of the self ) to show how there are also critical traditions within psychology that explore the relational aspects of selfhood in ways much more resonant with African views. He contrasts Western ideas of the independent self-contained individual with African notions of selfhood as existing in relation to others and the environment. except fair uses permitted under U. specific to recent Western culture. especially in its claim to be an objec- tive science. psychology has failed to reflect on its own limitations as a very specific cultural form. He shows how the notion of the individual that was taken for granted as a starting point for most mainstream psychology is in fact a social construct. Juta and Company. alienation. philosophy and historical ideas. unfamiliar. After explaining the differences between Western and African ideas of selfhood in chapter 2. often offering inappropriate ideas and methods while simultaneously undermining the existing indigenous knowl- edge systems. For the newcomer to the field this can present a daunting challenge – there may be moments when the following chapters seem unfamiliar. As a result. He identifies Vygotsky’s developmental psychology as an approach that moves 3 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) . but the very principles that motivate this effort: the belief that ideas matter. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher. All rights reserved. This necessarily entails a degree of complexity: both the introduction of new. He argues instead for an indigenisation of psychological knowledge. ‘unscientific’ or otherwise idiosyncratic. But at these moments we can only hope to share a sense that. not because of some abstract belief in the value of truth. the rewards far outweigh the challenges. In chapters 2 and 3 Mkhize confronts a foundation stone of psychology: the concept of the self. and urgently. but because they directly affect what is possible.S. What can be thought determines what can be done. Derek. critical thought involves ques- tioning our most basic assumptions – the very ideas that constitute common sense and everyday thinking. and in this world of brutality. Mkhize’s analysis draws attention to an ongoing theme in this book: the colonial nature of psychological knowledge.

showing how Fanon seeks not simply to explain the alienation produced by racism but to overcome it and heal the damaged self by confronting both the internalised 4 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) . his work is seldom seen in the psychology curriculum. Fanon’s question is deeper and more interesting: what kind of selves are created by racist social systems? How do people experience their own identities in terms of those cate- gories? Hook explores the radical implications of Fanon’s theory. more astonishingly in a country such as South Africa where his ideas clearly have the most pressing signifi- cance. implied rules) of those interactions. except fair uses permitted under U. mapped out the critical study of racialised identity. Bakhtin’s theory also raises the question of what can and can’t be said in specific social situations: who is allowed to speak and who is not. unpacking the trauma of psychological life under colonialism. Critical Psychology Account: s7393698 . people to relate to others through harmful stereotypes. so Mkhize turns to Bakhtin’s theory of dialogism. The challenge. then. but is complex and even contradictory. Here it becomes clear that psychology has traditionally been monological. is to produce a psychology that not only understands the dialogical nature of the self.printed on 8/6/2016 5:12 AM via UNISA AN: 706996 . social codes. Hook. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher. Such a psychology would be far more appropriate to the cultural diversity and democratic aspirations of the South African context. and this remains a recurring theme in the following chapters. speaking down from a position of assumed authority over others who are thought of as having little important to say for. recognising it as fundamen- tally social. Yet his name is hardly known among mainstream psychologists and. in which one party speaks at – rather than with – the other. Bakhtin contrasts dialogical communication. All rights reserved. drawing on the cultural resources (language. themselves. But even this model suggests a one-to-one interaction rather than a complete social world. As a black psychiatrist and anti-colonial revolutionary he. more than any other single person. or about. Derek.S. In the next two chapters Hook explores issues of the self from a different perspective. of who is in authority and who is marginalised. Bakhtin argues that self is produced in interactions. This implic- itly raises questions of power. In recent decades Fanon has increasingly been hailed as a major critical intellectual of the 20th century. given the diverse range of encounters possible in social life. in which both parties contribute to the growth of understanding. away from the idea of cognitive development as a purely internal process to one which sees it rather as primarily interpersonal – always occurring in a social context in which the child internalises the skills of more competent others through an ongoing process of social interaction. interactive and relational. Juta and Company. with monological speech. Within liberal psychology questions of race tended to be reduced to questions of racism: the psychological problem of prejudice as a kind of cognitive error that caused or applicable copyright law. This produces a self that is shaped by social forces.. but to create a psychology that is in itself dialogical – one that interacts with and learns from other systems of knowl- edge. focusing on the work of Frantz Fanon.CP_Chap01 11/2/04 10:41 am Page 4 Critical Psychology Copyright © 2014.

Juta and Company. Parker highlights the importance of examining the social effects of adopting particular theoretical frameworks. Whereas scientific psychology simply asks whether a particular claim is true or false. Fanon thus politicises psychology. Whereas psychology tends to trace symptoms back to some failure in the individual. Hook goes on to give a detailed reading of Fanon’s reworking of specific psychoanalytic concepts. He shows that different articulations of psychoanalysis have consequences ranging from the conservative to the potentially liberating. Hook traces the links between Fanon’s ideas and the work of South African Black Consciousness leader Steve Biko. It further allows us to find significance in things that were traditionally 5 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) . Hook takes the analysis of Fanon even further. Hook. Psychology does this by ignoring the social dimension and attributing the ways we are to an underlying human nature: a fixed. While some commentators interpret Fanon as having abandoned psychology for political activism.. and sexual desire. showing that his work not only provides a model for anti-colonial transformation but in fact offers a general model for critical psychology. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher.CP_Chap01 11/2/04 10:41 am Page 5 Summary: Theoretical resources Copyright © 2014. Fanon reveals the brutality inherent in the social order. except fair uses permitted under U. Fanon does this by providing an alterna- tive way of understanding psychological breakdown. Derek. self-conscious indi- vidual who acts in his (he is assumed to be male) own best interests. From the outset we are cautioned against the dangers of essentialism – the tendency to explain our socially constructed ways of being as natural and inevitable. linking the needs for personal healing and radical social change. Critical Psychology Account: s7393698 . ideas and the social systems responsible for that psychological brutalisation. Fanon makes it clear that most psychological problems have their roots in problems in broader society. very often biological condition from which we cannot escape.printed on 8/6/2016 5:12 AM via UNISA AN: 706996 . Parker identifies two potentially subversive concepts at the heart of psycho- analysis: the unconscious. Where psychology blames the victim for his or her own problems. All rights reserved.S. This denies the possibility of social change and leads us passively to accept the current social existence as a reflection of a universal human condi- tion. showing how Biko’s political activism stressed the importance of not simply overthrowing the political system of apartheid but also of overcoming the negative sense of self internalised by victims of racism. The notion of the unconscious challenges the essentialised Western notion of the rational. showing instead a self that is subverted by hidden drives of which it is not even aware. showing how his work is innovative and important precisely in articulating the links between the psychological and political domains. In his chapter Parker takes this exploration of the critical uses of psycho- analytic concepts further in a more general discussion of psychoanalysis and critical psychology. or applicable copyright law. A frequent danger of uncritical psychology is that it takes culturally specific assumptions about people and presents them as universal of human nature in exactly this way.

He shows how. dismissed as meaningless – symptoms. by identifying and analysing the specific type of society in which we live: industrial capitalism. such as by exposing the myth of researcher as an objective enquirer. Here Marxism provides an important theoretical resource. Parker shows that psychoanalysis. justify) colonialism in terms of a supposed psychological need of certain cultures to be dominated. and to develop an alertness to the ways in which such systems often contain within them the very ideas that can be turned back against them in the form of critique. In the next chapter Hayes discusses the possible dialogue between Marxism and critical psychology. The Marxist analysis shows how the underlying economic structure influences so many other aspects of social life. It does not simply describe universal truths about human nature but produces a system of thought that becomes true.. We need to maintain a critical awareness of the ways in which all conceptual systems construct. of course. Here again the recog- nition of the social dimension prevents the tendency to fall back on explanations that reduce psychological life to biological essences. except fair uses permitted under U.CP_Chap01 11/2/04 10:41 am Page 6 Critical Psychology Copyright © 2014. jokes.S. He argues that we need a sustained investi- gation of everyday life – especially one that does not reduce the individual to their inner experience but that rather grasps the connections between indi- vidual experience and social structure. Juta and Company. psychoanalysis becomes true for us: it becomes an effective way of under- standing ourselves. Marxist theory thus not only reveals gross differences in power within that system but also provides a damning indictment by showing the human cost of capitalist society. Hook. Derek. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher. does not simply interpret the world but also constructs it. a tendency clearly illustrated in Mannoni’s attempt to show and explain (and. slips of the tongue – revealing layers of social meaning where they might otherwise have remained invisible.printed on 8/6/2016 5:12 AM via UNISA AN: 706996 . like all other theories. revealing instead the unconscious processes and desires that might influence the research process. It thus provides a critical social theory that is some- times missing from critical psychology – a necessary tool to prevent critical 6 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) . highlighting the underlying tension between the majority who have to work and the privileged minority who enjoy the profits made by exploiting that labour. Much of Parker’s critique has relevance beyond psychoanalysis. for instance. shaped by meanings that are not biologically determined but rather structured by social interactions. in becoming assimilated into a psychoanalytic culture. our experiences. often in ways that work precisely to make them less vulnerable to critique. This helps challenge the tendency to reduce social issues to psychological ones. Critical Psychology Account: s7393698 . Parker further raises the possibility of using psychoanalytic concepts against psychoanalysis: exposing. dreams. He also shows how these critiques can be applied to mainstream psychology. Psychoanalysis also shows how sexual desire becomes independent from its physiological roots. All rights reserved. the way in which defences and unconscious desires operate within psychoanalytic institutions. rather than simply describe. or applicable copyright law.

psychology from lapsing into exactly the psychological reductionism that plagues mainstream psychology. thus making them seem natural and inevitable. Here we can recall Mkhize’s earlier discussion of relationality. With gender. Hayes thus concludes that Marxism provides both a set of theoretical resources and pressing research questions for critical psychology. Shefer’s chapter shifts the analysis to the crucial area of gender.CP_Chap01 11/2/04 10:41 am Page 7 Summary: Theoretical resources Copyright © 2014. with a range of possible positions between extremes of masculinity and femininity. Psychology has tended to assume not only that there are two separate and opposed genders but also that each of them is stable and internally coherent. it also develops that crucial notion of ideology. Shefer exposes how psychology made an ongoing research industry out of the idea that men and women are fundamentally different. Hayes shows how the Marxist notion of alienation provides a conceptual link between subjectively experienced crises (which psychology likes to pathol- ogise as purely internal matters) and the social forces that brutalise people. 7 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) . Psychology. for instance. Even somewhat more critical models that put gender on a continuum. the way things are from the standpoint of those in power. Derek. psychology tended simply to adopt available cultural ideas and then put a scien- tific spin on them by using those ideas to guide its research and theory. From the outset feminist psychology challenged this tendency. showing how masculinity and femininity were socially constructed roles that people learned rather than being the natural result of biological makeup.S. and in so doing obscuring the real social forces at work behind gender and gender inequality. or applicable copyright law. Most often these differences were attributed to some underlying biological cause. producing endless studies of sexual difference. In so doing. Hayes points to the importance of the Marxist notion of dialectics: the importance of under- standing things in terms how they are interrelated rather than examining them in isolation as positivist psychology is inclined to do. Juta and Company. She shows how psychology has long been active in maintaining ideas and practices that justify and perpetuate gender inequality. but the Marxist analysis goes further. showing how these interrelationships include formidable distribu- tions of power that operate outside the hands of individuals.printed on 8/6/2016 5:12 AM via UNISA AN: 706996 . This may be all the more important now that the issue of economic inequality that was so long at the heart of South African political debate and action seems to have been deleted from the agenda by those currently in power. as with many other ideas. promoting it as the standard of healthy behaviour and pathologising all who differ from it. Critical Psychology Account: s7393698 . takes a particular social norm such as the dominant idea of femininity. Marxism provides a structural analysis that looks below the surface accounts of social life. Hook. accepts it uncritically and turns it into a principle. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher. showing how the available ways of thinking about ourselves and the world are not just reflections of what is out there but distortions that conceal underlying conflicts and instead present. except fair uses permitted under U. All rights reserved.. revealing the hidden forces at work. and justify.

how to classify and explain them if they are different. Foucault enables us to ask what psychology is. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher. Psychology is part of a process of observing. going deeper into some of the issues of post-structuralism raised by Shefer. but rather that they are exercising their individuality. Shefer shows how post-structuralist feminism has developed a profound and far-reaching critique of these ideas. away from terrorising people into obedience with threats of brutal punishment and instead towards understanding the causes of deviance. a shift in what they in fact are. to what one does: gender as coming into being through continual specific practices. mostly without the need for the heavy hand of state repression. Hook explores the significance of Michel Foucault’s work for critical psychology. not in terms of its findings. accepted that each individual could be safely pinned down at some fixed point along that line.CP_Chap01 11/2/04 10:41 am Page 8 Critical Psychology Copyright © 2014. fundamentally changing what they are and what they do?’. and what effects it has. Indeed. In the final two chapters of the section. and one that opens completely different possibili- ties for critical intervention into the problems produced by current gender arrangements. Juta and Company. shifting the question away from ‘What is gender?’ to ‘How is gender constructed?’. It produces norms and categories: what people should be like. All rights reserved. Here again the question is shifted from ‘Who am I?’ to ‘How have I been constructed?’. Not only can we fundamentally change the social organisation of gender inequality. It produces self-regulating individuals who are constantly or applicable copyright law. changing and contradictory even within the same individual. in policing themselves they do not necessarily feel imposed upon at all. documenting and explaining human life. This presents a radically different way of conceptualising gender from that offered by traditional psychology. But the radical innovation in Foucault’s critique lies in shifting the latter question away from the tradi- tional psychological query ‘What psychological forces have shaped me?’ and instead asking a question about psychology itself: ‘How has the discipline of psychology made people come to think about themselves in particular ways. It reveals how language and discourse produce gender. Post-structuralist feminists further shift the understanding of gender away from what one is. 8 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) . Derek. creating people who police themselves. claims and theories but rather in terms of what its real social function is: why it came into existence. except fair uses permitted under U. Thus psychology is part of the new tactics of power. In so doing it produces a profound shift in how people come to experience themselves.printed on 8/6/2016 5:12 AM via UNISA AN: 706996 . and how gender is complicated. ‘Am I emotionally disturbed?’. Critical Psychology Account: s7393698 . but Shefer conveys the importance of rethinking what gender is. autonomy and personal choice. so that we can re-imagine who we are and transform ourselves through our shifting understandings and enactments of our own identities. Hook.S.. ‘Is my behaviour anti-social?’). monitoring their own experience and behaviour (‘Is my sexuality normal?’. Here psychology is shown to be part of a fundamental shift in forms of social control.

sexism and the denial of rights or freedoms. marking a few key concepts and providing some useful tools that will. and psychology in its very helpfulness and effec- tiveness. though dense and varied. as Hayes suggests. Its aim is not to enforce obedience but to enhance the life of citizens. This analysis throws traditional critique off balance. 9 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) . Not only in its academic knowledge and professional practice. provide an incentive for future critical intellectual work – a task that. one hopes. and precisely in so doing to enhance the power of the state. Hence Foucault’s suggestion that ‘our goal nowadays is not to discover what we are. because we are no longer seen as outside of and against power. productive and responsible citizens. Nor is the problem with psychology those points where it collaborates with repression – racism. to optimise their health. None the less. that we need to develop a more radical and far-reaching analysis that even questions our own deepest desires. in the Marxist model) as a centralised point from which power is controlled and exercised over citizens. These chapters simply provide suggestions of some of the possibili- ties. be stimulated to investigate these or applicable copyright law.CP_Chap01 11/2/04 10:41 am Page 9 Summary: Theoretical resources Copyright © 2014. Hook. have been omitted.printed on 8/6/2016 5:12 AM via UNISA AN: 706996 . one hopes. are by no means a comprehen- sive overview of the range of theoretical resources available to critical psychology. of helping ourselves. are the mechanisms and technologies of power. Major areas within the field. Derek. fertile areas further. the reader who engages with this material will find a starting point for thought. talk shows. It offers us ways of knowing ourselves.. wealth and happiness. important critiques of posi- tivism and the cultural studies of science. of being ourselves that make us participate more intimately in exactly these new forms of power. These chapters. such as the anti-psychiatry movement. taking up some of the urgent challenges raised by these authors. personal growth courses and a range of popular ideas and practices does psychology help people eagerly to produce themselves as good. and will. Psychology can thus be seen as one of these technologies of power. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher.S. We ourselves. the aspects of ourselves we believe to be most personal and true. except fair uses permitted under U. debate and action. but to refuse who we are’. advice columns. Juta and Company. but also in self-help books. He shows how Foucault moves us away from the idea of state (or capital. opposing the way it tries to stop us from being ourselves. Critical Psychology Account: s7393698 . Critical psychology is a diverse and growing area with a long. There are still more possible resources that exist in other fields but which have not yet been tapped by critical psychology. In the final chapter of this section Hook looks more deeply at the links between psychology and power. and instead reveals modern government as an array of techniques and resources that work together to produce overall effects. healthy. in our ongoing attempt to move beyond the limits of what is given. though largely unrecognised history. to name but a few. the Frankfurt School. will not be complete until the day when there is no critical psychology. because all psychology is critical.

of how psychology may itself be political Discuss what psychological imperialism might mean in a South African context Elaborate on how psychology might operate as a powerful form of knowledge Discuss how psychology works as a powerful way of depoliticing experience.printed on 8/6/2016 5:12 AM via UNISA AN: 706996 . or applicable copyright law.S. Derek. Juta and Company. context and practice of psychology Provide examples of how psychology and power might be linked.’ Paraphrase of Frederick Jameson (1983) LEARNING OUTCOMES By the end of this chapter.CP_Chap01 11/2/04 10:41 am Page 10 Chapter 1 Copyright © 2014. except fair uses permitted under U. as a powerful form of subjectivity. Critical Psychology Account: s7393698 .. All rights reserved. of knowing one's self. 10 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) . Critical psychology: The basic co-ordinates Derek Hook ‘We should argue for the priority of … political interpretation … the political perspective is not some supplementary method … but rather the absolute horizon of all reading and all interpretation. Hook. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher. you should be able to: Discuss the idea of critical psychology as a critical orientation towards psycho- logical knowledge and practice that affects how we think about the theory.

and uses of. except fair uses permitted under U. psychology which at best bear a family resemblance to one another. any one set of concepts. the drive to convert critical sensibilities into a kind of critical response or action. and forms of practice. It is important that we understand from the very outset that critical psychology is more an approach. One might say that critical psychology is by definition diverse and multiple. and its various sub- dimensions will best be grasped by taking into consideration the contents and disciplines in objectives of each of them. an orientation towards In this respect it seems that the best way to grasp critical psychology is by psychological getting a sense of its agendas and functioning across a spread of theories and knowledge and practices. Critical psychology as it is applied as a means of critiquing psychotherapy. militate against providing any one simple formula. thirdly. that it cannot be localised to one form of theory. that is. secondly. wherever relations of power possible. CONTEXT. These three correlate to what the editors consider to be three vital domains of critical activity or critique. psychology and is made up of diverse theoretical perspectives and THEORY. Critical Psychology Account: s7393698 . a kind of orientation towards psychological knowledge and practice – and to relations of power in general – than any one kind of theory. questions of South African context. Its structure has been broken or applicable copyright law.CP_Chap01 11/2/04 10:41 am Page 11 Critical psychology: The basic co-ordinates Copyright © 2014. multiple critical perspectives on. Each in general. The diverse concerns of each of these. one type of critical practice. an eye for specificity. It is for this reason that this introductory chapter would prefer to avoid giving a single. the reduction of critical concepts and perspectives to formulas. Each of these sections contains its own short 11 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) . This is exactly what this book offers. rigid definition of critical psychology. down into three areas: theoretical resources. Hook. an emphasis on the value of different modes of conceptualisation. CRITICAL PSYCHOLOGY AS ORIENTATION RATHER THAN THEORY There is no one critical psychology.printed on 8/6/2016 5:12 AM via UNISA AN: 706996 . Just as psychology itself is a Critical psychology field comprising diverse component parts – many of which may bear no overt is an approach methodological or conceptual resemblance to one another – so critical rather than a psychology itself can be incredibly varied. the particular priorities of specific sociohis- torical locations in which critical psychology may be practised. theory. practice – and to tion to critical psychology and its concerns. a broad and flexible introduc. precisely because critical psychology cuts across the various sub-disciplines in psychology and is made up of diverse theoretical perspectives and forms of practice. may look like a very different creature from the critical psychology that comes to play a proactive role in reformulating forms of community intervention. a treatment that avoids. All rights reserved. even fragmentary. and. first. Rather there are multiple forms.S. Juta and Company. for example. Derek. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher. This book has been ordered in a particular way. It is an orientation that of the chapters that follow – despite their diversity – may be considered a cuts across the component part of the broader critical trajectory of critical psychology. PRACTICE: THREE POINTS OF FOCUS forms of practice.. the discrete forms of theory and of practice. or single context.

or applicable copyright law. more active in responding to grassroots needs in South Africa. All rights reserved. Juta and Company. These themes may be taken as ways of holding together the diverse activities. Hook.printed on 8/6/2016 5:12 AM via UNISA AN: 706996 . Certain traditional critical tools are applied here – Marxism. practice and politics in a critical manner. The last section is about forms of practice – new ways of making psychology more politically responsive. African feminism(s). critical psychology is exactly an investigation of the relationship between power and psychology. and of liberation psychology – that is. The second section focuses on concerns particularly germane to the southern African (or ‘Third World’) situation more generally. Critical Psychology Account: s7393698 . more active in contesting traditional authority structures in psychology. of the emotional compo- nents of the typically unstated emotional-political subtexts of community psychology. discourse analysis. oppressive. on what a black South African psychology might actually mean.CP_Chap01 11/2/04 10:41 am Page 12 Critical Psychology Copyright © 2014. are all presented. Such themes may also be thought of as problematics.. at least in view of the fact that they point to a series of vital and vexing concerns that have motivated the emer- gence of critical psychology in the first place. such as post-colonial and Africanist forms of critique. the ways in which psychology may be usefully used to conceptualise how power works. I shall comment on each only briefly. POWER AND PSYCHOLOGY The first and perhaps most omnipresent theme within critical psychology is that of psychology and power itself. racism and HIV/Aids are addressed and perspectives on community intervention. feminism. It 12 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) . except fair uses permitted under U. theoretical perspectives and practical imperatives of critical psychology – themes that knit the seemingly fragmentary component parts of critical psychology together. development. of Participatory Action Research. Although it is unnecessary to go into any more detail about these contents here. post-structuralism – as are some newer ones. The theoretical resources section forms the conceptual backdrop to how we understand much of what is politically problematic about the knowledges and practices of psychology.S. Derek. Eurocentric. introduction that draws out the ways in which the chapters locate and respond to the various imperatives that make up critical psychology. Ongoing concerns of poverty. and the ways in which they may be contested. At its most basic. psycho- analysis. it is useful to provide a loose thematic discussion of the key features of what we take critical psychology to be. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher. how various forms of oppression and inequality come to take hold and function. and how we might respond to these crises of knowledge. It includes explanations of Activity Theory. It also includes discussions of critical research objectives in critical psychology. I shall do this by ‘playing out’ a number of key themes or concerns in critical psychology. This section demonstrates some of the ways in which psychology is ideological.

This is a point worth reiterating: critical psychology is concerned both with critiquing oppressive uses of psychology and with enabling potentially transformatory forms of practice that disrupt imbalances of power and which have social equality as their goal. those on whom they are conducting research (or studying) – although this in itself is a vital concern of critical psychology. were psychologists who put to practice their profession in ways that made history and affected the lives of millions . in some or other way.S. Bulhan makes this point at the beginning of his Frantz Fanon and the psychology of oppression (1985) by means of a pointed comparison between the careers of Fanon and Hendrik Verwoerd: The two men . an instrument of power. All rights reserved. always gives rise to relationships of power.. Hook. we are not referring simply to politics in the sense of government psychology and and state – we are referring to politics in the sense of relations of power. authority and subordination. of psychology as possessing a polit- oppressive uses of ical utility. it is also a relationship of greater intimacy than we may first expect.printed on 8/6/2016 5:12 AM via UNISA AN: 706996 . that psychology is only infrequently. and continues to be.. is an awareness that psychology itself is powerful – perhaps more powerful than we may at first expect – and that psychology plays a part in maintaining and extending existing relations of power. As Bulhan (1985) goes on to make abundantly clear.. or inconsistently political. This is not just a question of how clinical psychologists or research psychologists relate to their ‘subjects’. Fanon. their clients (or ‘patients’). Furthermore. Juta and Company.. an avowed anti-Semite. psychology is always – even in its most everyday and mundane forms – profoundly political. when barely 17 . profoundly involved in the reproduction and extension of relations of power and control. in contrast. relationships of control. psychology – whether as a form of knowledge or as a type of practice – is always powerful.. Perhaps the most direct way of expressing this relationship is by asserting that psychology itself has been. and a leading architect of apartheid .. that is. and as critical psychology should assert whenever possible. As all of the chapters in this book argue.. volunteered for the forces attempting the libera- tion of France from Nazi liberation (3). though: in is concerned both with critiquing speaking of psychology as a political tool. or applicable copyright law. Derek. Critical Psychology Account: s7393698 . as either an instrument of oppression or a potentially enabling means of progressive politics. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher. Critical psychology It is important that we introduce a note of caution here. Verwoerd was a staunch white supremacist. We are also concerned here with the kinds of knowledge that psychologists 13 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) .CP_Chap01 11/2/04 10:41 am Page 13 Critical psychology: The basic co-ordinates Copyright © 2014. was a relentless champion of social justice who. a Nazi sympathizer.. This is an important contribution to the history of psychology in that it leaves little doubt as to the political utility of psychology. except fair uses permitted under U.. Psychology’s relationship with power is complex and multifaceted. that with disrupting is. imply that psychology’s involvement in politics is arbitrary. this imbalances of suggestion that psychology is in some ways political should not be taken to power. a political tool.

It is this realisation more than any other that would seem to lie at the heart of critical psychology. then. What do we mean by ideological? A number of complementary notions of ideology are offered in this book. for the most part outside of the domain of critical psychology. in that they marginalise certain voices. attempted to do just the opposite. and practice always constitute a power- relationship of some PSYCHOLOGY AS IDEOLOGICAL sort or another. All rights reserved. Whereas the critical dimension would interrogate psychology as a particular politics of knowledge. except fair uses permitted under U. On the contrary. simply objective way of knowing the world. Critical Psychology Account: s7393698 .printed on 8/6/2016 5:12 AM via UNISA AN: 706996 . although Hayes’ further comments make this articulation more evident. Hook. the questions of power – of which psychology is part. in understanding critical psychology (which extends the first) is the awareness that psychology functions in ideological ways which have. of psychology as a science . practices logical expertise and critiques of critical psychology. that kinds of knowledge that are ideological inasmuch as they priori- tise certain views of the world over others. gloss over certain kinds of social contradiction and ultimately collude with larger structures of power. another which at basis is substantive: The critical dimension refers to the knowledge claims and the ontological status or applicable copyright law. There could. This avoidance of the political questions – that is. to play down this political nature.S. Derek. and of psychology’s own immanently (yet unadmitted) political nature. there is no form of psychological Psychological knowledge or practice that does not set up or support a certain relationship of knowledge. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher. Hayes is making two points here. Juta and Company. the substantive dimension would examine the theoret- ical and formal constitution of the subject of psychological theory and research 14 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) . so the traditional or mainstream practices and applications of psychology have. Hayes (1989) claims. not an unbiased. historically.. one of which states basically that ideology might be understood as the ways in which meaning serves to create and to sustain relations of power and domination.CP_Chap01 11/2/04 10:41 am Page 14 Critical Psychology Copyright © 2014. Hence Hayes’ (1989) understatement: ‘The study of ideology has not been a central issue in the history of psychology’ (84). the realisation that psychology is not a neutral ‘science’. is one way of pointing to the ideological functioning of power. It is this fact more than any other that motivates the efforts. drawing our attention to the facts both of psychology’s omission of ideology as an important focus of study.. Just as critical psychology endeavours to play up the very political nature of psychology. gone largely unexamined. The link between these two points is not at first clear. Our second theme. power. The substantive dimension refers to the operations of ideology at the level of the individual (84). produce. power ‘runs in the veins’ of psychology. one which at basis is critical. psycho. be at least two possible ways of addressing the issue of ideology in psychology..

Hook. by definition. This is a prioritisation (of individual over social) and a division (of social and individual) that has remained remarkably firm in the history of psychology. political. they are the most effective ways of obscuring or concealing psychology’s political quality. namely the situation in which the remarkably firm in the history of self-contained individual is taken to be primary and the world of social. psychology.printed on 8/6/2016 5:12 AM via UNISA AN: 706996 . extending the notion of psychology as ideological. we might say.S. of the primacy of self-contained individualism. self-contained tively isolated the individual from the social sphere. of psychological discourse typically 1989). [may be] constituted by partic- ular. and of the separate nature of sociopolitical context.. By presenting itself as a science. 84–85). Our third theme. is concerned with the kind of knowledge that psychology produces. secondary. – engaging psychology as a particular politics of subjectivity. and the world of social. What are the implications of these two lines of critique? That psychology cultural and does produce certain ideologically loaded views of the world. This isolation of the social from the individual is so important division (of social because it precludes the possibility that the facts of social and political power and individual) that may precede – or even constitute – the subject. or some essen- tial core personality’ (Hayes. All rights reserved. Likewise.. A POLITICS OF KNOWLEDGE AND SUBJECTIVITY Why are these two considerations – namely. Taking this position. the politics of knowledge and the politics of subjectivity – at the heart of what critical psychology is all about? Well. ical. Juta and Company. is to risk missing that.CP_Chap01 11/2/04 10:41 am Page 15 Critical psychology: The basic co-ordinates Copyright © 2014. Derek. because science is assumed to be.. deserves prioritisation (of further elaboration. value-free (Hayes. except fair uses permitted under U. the psychological from the political. cultural and economic power secondary. and a number of the following chapters take up exactly individual over social) and a this imperative. psychology has effec. or applicable copyright law. by omitting to provide an account of the processes by which assumes that the an individual becomes the subject of and for ideology. knowledge that is seem- 15 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) . historically situated. PSYCHOLOGY AS A POWERFUL FORM OF KNOWLEDGE We can rephrase (and reiterate) aspects of the foregoing discussion in slightly more straightforward terms. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher. the intrasubjective from individual is primary the ideological. following the line of argument presented above. is that of critical psychology as a politics of knowledge and subjectivity. That psychology economic power does produce powerful effects in its subjects. The reverse is typically assumed has remained in much traditional psychological discourse. Critical Psychology Account: s7393698 . because. This latter critique. polit. as Hayes (1989) puts it. ‘the category and notion of the individual itself . of the isola. Hence Hayes’ argument that this subject of psychological theory and research needs to be ‘decentred from its illusory coherence of an integrated psychological unity. This is a tion of the psyche from other elements of the greater social sphere. ideological discourses’ (85). Critical psychology. psychology would pretend that it is free of The great majority politics.

to put things somewhat differently. Hook. ingly scientific. It is a questioning of what psychology’s underlying assumptions are. the philosophical lenses that come to condition its ‘truths’. assumed to be universal. then. with what has ‘fallen out of the picture’ in mainstream psycho- logical depictions of the world. At the very broadest level. and for whom is this knowledge being produced? The knowledge of psychology. All of these are liable to produce ideologically skewed or unrepre- sentative kinds of knowledge. because the knowledge produced by psychology is not simply a neutral and objective reflection of how the world is. Derek. the particular methodologies and procedures used to produce such kinds of knowledge. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher. This is our fourth theme: an awareness of the fact that psychological knowledge operates to extend rela- tions of power. to re- emphasise the point. but is rather a kind of knowledge that is produced by a certain group. and for certain interests. they exclude a great number of people in their attentions and priorities. and hence applied to non- Western settings in prescriptive ways. concrete relations of power within the world. human nature and knowledge that are reflected and perpetuated by psychology. and with how this knowledge is put to use in ways which detract our attention from real. For this reason it becomes imperative to ask: who is producing psychological knowledge. Critical psychology is concerned with this supposed truthfulness.printed on 8/6/2016 5:12 AM via UNISA AN: 706996 . nor is it universal. except fair uses permitted under U. We might understand this as the imperialism of Western psychology.CP_Chap01 11/2/04 10:41 am Page 16 Critical Psychology Copyright © 2014. PSYCHOLOGICAL IMPERIALISM In saying that psychology produces powerful kinds of knowledge. Here we see a vital concern for an African critical psychology: a critical attention to how partic- ular forms of knowledge. with how psychology produces what counts as knowledge. I use the term here as a way of indicating the pervasiveness of this particular tendency to prioritise US- American or European values and understandings. is not disinterested or impartial.. one of critical psychology’s basic preoccu- pations lies with those ‘taken-for-granted’ assumptions concerning reality. generated within and particular to the ‘First World’ come to be generalised. (The notion of the ‘First World’ is obvi- ously questionable and problematic. that is. All rights reserved. based on an objective. Juta and Company. it is also a question of how such knowledge is approached and what are the mechanisms. Given their Western ‘First World’ origin. in certain ways. we need be aware that the knowledges of psychology are exclusionary. whom. Critical Psychology Account: s7393698 . Why is this such a vital concern of critical psychology? Well.) The question of the ideological nature of much knowledge produced by psychology is not only a question of who is producing knowledge and for or applicable copyright law. these 16 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) . neutral ‘knowing’ of the world that thus sells itself as ‘the truth’. since it implies a moral evaluation of the ‘First World’ as superior to the ‘Third World’.S.

the worldviews of Africans. which are simultane. and the concepts it assumes. critique of how psychology reproduces and an engagement with the philosophical legitimates inequalities (of race. types of knowledge may be less than helpful – if not in fact actively harmful – or applicable copyright law. knowledge. of how psychology is a particular way of approaching and making knowledge – hence what is called for is a critical attention to its modes of knowing. Although I have tried to avoid giving any single A critical attention to how the vocabu- definition of critical psychology in this chapter. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher. a questioning of the implementing social asymmetries. the procedures it uses in examining the world. particular methodologies and procedures A determination to analyse psychology as used by psychology to produce certain an instrument of power.printed on 8/6/2016 5:12 AM via UNISA AN: 706996 . ment and/or change. rather it is in its very nature psychology as means of serving an emanci- diverse and even seemingly fragmentary. of escape from particular power structures of gender) and subsequent asymmetrical rela. patory and socially transformative agenda. that is.CP_Chap01 11/2/04 10:41 am Page 17 Critical psychology: The basic co-ordinates Copyright © 2014. of the way it universalises or An attempt to problematise the place of generalises certain terms of human experi- psychological explanations in patterns of ence and marginalises traditional forms of power and ideology. as to aspects of what critical psychology might A critical awareness of how psychology is be understood to be. human The attempt to implement social better- nature and knowledge. laries. tuted by psychology as a form of knowledge The critique of the imperialism of Western and practice. tions of power. capacities and prac- A focus on how psychology constructs tices through which people may achieve differences that perpetuate dominant emancipation. oppression and exploitation. Reflexive attention and critique directed A critical attention to the mechanisms. All rights reserved. theories and clinical techniques of I thought it would be useful to provide a series psychology come to hold particular versions of ideas – drawn from the following chapters – of people and social worlds in place. In addition to this. except fair uses permitted under U. of gender lenses that come to condition its ‘truths’. in other words. of sexuality. demands of a developing society. Hook. novel chapter – critical psychology is no one single techniques and emergent theories into theory or practice. We need be critically aware..S. Critical Psychology Account: s7393698 . assumptions concerning reality. freedom.. the beliefs. set up as an authority in defining what is Critical psychology is: normal and what is abnormal in Western An interrogation of the ‘taken-for-granted’ society. knowledge The questioning of the psychological and organisational structure. 17 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) .. BOX 1 Critical psychology is . the towards the procedures of psychology. a underlying assumptions of this knowledge. agenda that is properly responsive to the A critique of power-relationships consti. Derek. its ways of doing research. the concepts. dynamics. liberation and constructions (of race. in African contexts and especially so if they have not first understood the cultural contexts. As mentioned in the introduction to this A focus on introducing new methods. processes. Juta and Company. to serve an ously reflected and perpetuated by emancipatory and socially transformative psychology. psychology. as a means of kinds of knowledge. etc) at the levels of practice.

or as ‘black’. which it is typically disrespectful of. psychologised descriptions of the world and the individual’s place within it.printed on 8/6/2016 5:12 AM via UNISA AN: 706996 . concerned with implementing identities. ourselves and our world. of social power – of factors such as poverty and cultural and economic marginalisation – in favour of abstracted. categorical roles in society through which we describe and understand who we are as men.. and the that much psychology has actively depoliticised our understanding of concepts it assumes. how psychology in a sense ‘makes us’. which we begin to ‘know’ and speak of ourselves. Juta and Company. with political change. to its modes of knowing. Furthermore. Critical Psychology Account: s7393698 . Knowledge production of this sort has traditionally been unconcerned with political issues and. when we are speaking about exclusionary what is called for is kinds of knowledge. its ways of doing research. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher. very little psychological research has been directed towards improving the everyday lives Critical psychology of underprivileged communities or towards explaining the processes of rapid is concerned with how psychology social change in developing countries. for example. As such. for example. through provides. first. Derek. decontextualised and. and concepts that enable us to examine ourselves. Our fifth theme: critical psychology is concerned with how psychology impacts on our identities. all psychologies are tied to approaching and making knowledge – historical contexts and. of course. frameworks of popular knowledge. as women. Psychology provides the technical vocabulary and concepts that 18 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) . WAYS OF KNOWING OURSELVES to practise and Critical psychology is concerned with how psychology creates ways of under- develop ourselves in the terms it standing ourselves. Critical psychology is concerned with or applicable copyright law.CP_Chap01 11/2/04 10:41 am Page 18 Critical Psychology Copyright © 2014. Mainstream psychology has traditionally chosen types of analysis that ignore pressing political contexts of culture. through which we come to regulate and control our behaviours. we are referring to nothing less than the marginalisation a critical attention of the lived experiences of others. as adolescents.S. or ‘white’ – or any other racial designation. one potential role for a critical impacts on our psychology that is politically interested – that is. the DEPOLITICISING EXPERIENCE procedures it uses in examining the Another vital consideration of critical psychology is to be found in the claim world. even less so. ways of knowing over. except fair uses permitted under U. As Nhlanhla particular way of Mkhize makes us aware in his two chapters. All rights reserved. how it social betterment and/or change – and that does aim to contribute to the plays a part in specific concerns and interests of the developing world is exactly that of making us who we are by providing the providing knowledge and services of social development in a rural African technical vocabulary development context. As a number of chapters in the book argue. in opposition to. of economics. older ways of knowing and how psychology is a understanding the world. Hook. psychological research has historically been dominated by issues of interest to the ‘First World’. secondly. We need be we need also a vigilance regarding how psychology imposes categories of expe- critically aware of rience. as children. how it plays a part in making us who we are. gives us subject-positions.

Although it has not often been the case in the history of the discipline. to practise and develop ourselves in the terms it provides. of what their tendencies and characteristics are. they have informed our common-sense understandings and practices of self and sexuality.CP_Chap01 11/2/04 10:41 am Page 19 Critical psychology: The basic co-ordinates Copyright © 2014. Hook. questions that we consider to contain the fundamental truths of our existence. These vocabularies and techniques have entered the domain of popular discourse. except fair uses permitted under U. More than this. within which we locate ourselves. More than just that. where pressing sociopolitical circumstances (as discussed above) are ignored in favour of a kind of analysis which prioritises purely psychological terms of reference.printed on 8/6/2016 5:12 AM via UNISA AN: 706996 . subjectivity and sexuality. psychology can provide us with a language which helps us illustrate how certain forms of social power – such as racism. These vocabularies. As much as critical psychology is suspicious and social power. descriptions which reiterate and PSYCHOLOGY AS POLITICS reinforce patterns The last theme I shall discuss is that of the necessity of using psychology itself and relations of as a form of politics. and to consider the effects and implications of psychology locks us these constructed identities in our local context. of how they act. or subject-positions. distrustful of psychology. it also makes cautious use of some forms of psychology to better conceptualise. though. In fact. which describes relations of power – again. is a critical rogate where those taken-for-granted ways of making sense of selves come awareness of how from. to inter. All rights reserved. into descriptions of who we are. theories and techniques have a great deal of power in modern societies. as much as critical psychology is a critique of psychology. Derek. for example – appear to work. theories and clinical tech- niques of psychology come to hold particular versions of people and social worlds in place. Juta and Company. about how they are. psychology plays an important part in generating and substantiating categorical kinds of knowl- edge about groups of people.S. Critical Psychology Account: s7393698 . better analyse and hence better resist certain forms of power. The tendency to be avoided here is that of psychological reductionism.. or applicable copyright law. Critical psychology Our analytic work as critical psychologists is to take a skeptical view. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher. of the particular versions of people and social worlds it comes to hold in place. such as racism – in ways 19 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) . critical psychology is also an engagement and critique with broader forms of social power that may be thought to exist outside of psychology. that is. not only because they are formulated by experts but because they provide us with the parameters of normality and abnormality and because they inform questions of self. descriptions which reiterate and rein- force patterns and relations of social power. and how they operate. It is for this reason that in her chapter Lindy Wilbraham speaks of critical psychology as an attention to how the vocabularies. enable us to do this – to examine ourselves. Another way of making the same point is by suggesting that critical psychology is a critical awareness of how psychology locks us into descriptions of who we are. they have come to supply a series of corre- sponding social roles.

All rights reserved. which suggest that it is a purely internal phenomenon. dynamics. As ideologically unsound as much – even the majority – of psychology might be. are two very broad conceptualisations of critical psychology or applicable copyright law. explanations and even modes of experience to Critical psychology describe and illustrate the workings of power. Critical Psychology Account: s7393698 . The engagement and structures of critique of the power of psychology. we might be of the psychological able to think strategically about how we should intervene in ‘the life of power’. as a way of trying to understand. and in some ways condi- tioned or limited by. processes. and the psychological engagement and oppression and exploitation. as Foster people may achieve describes it in his chapter. such a politicisation may refer to the critical process by which we employ psychological concepts.S. liberation psychological processes. capacities and practices through which and escape from people may achieve emancipation. Juta and Company. freedom. grapple with. capacities without reducing power to nothing but the psychological. and ultimately intervene in. Hook. like that of psycho- analysis for example. we and practices might say that liberation psychology is a key component part to what we have through which been calling critical psychology.CP_Chap01 11/2/04 10:41 am Page 20 Critical Psychology Copyright © 2014. both of which helpfully illus- trate what critical psychology is about. Such a politicisation may refer to the critical process by which we place a series of ostensibly psychological concerns and concepts within the register of the political and thereby show up the extent to which human psychology is intimately linked to. Derek. We can read the notion of a psychopolitics in at least two ways. critique of power. liberation psychology involves questions of the emancipation. The hope in this respect is that involves questions by being able to analyse the political in such a psychological way. Likewise. ‘PSYCHOPOLITICS’ Here it is useful to draw on the notion of a ‘psychopolitics’. by the same token. the working of power. inevitably occurring. liberation and escape from partic- particular power ular power structures of oppression and exploitation. two of its most important responsibilities. freedom. we should still look to the critical potential of certain forms of psychology.. A SOUTH AFRICAN CRITICAL PSYCHOLOGY Continually thinking about and experimenting with how psychology itself may be operative as a form of political practice is perhaps the most pressing imper- 20 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) . What is liberation psychology? Well. Critical psychology does not wish to do away with all of psychology. except fair uses permitted under U. the sociopolitical and historical forces of its situation.printed on 8/6/2016 5:12 AM via UNISA AN: 706996 . that it is somehow natural. Put differently. cut off from the social and political circum- stances that give rise to it. Here we might suggest that one important task of critical psychology is not to dispense with psychological types of analysis but rather to reconnect them to political levels of description and/or analysis. which may be taken to refer to the explicit politicisation of the psychological. and. or with all psychological forms of analysis. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher. dynamics.

except fair uses permitted under U. we need to balance this intellectual attention with concrete activity. Juta and Company. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher. It needs to do more than critically deconstruct and evaluate psychology as a system of knowledge and values. we find what seems to be a disproportionate attention paid to the conceptual and ideological problems in much of mainstream psychology. It is not enough for critical psychology to remain a theoretically oriented critique of ideology.S. of community involvement and assistance in areas which may traditionally be seen as lying outside of what a Eurocentric psychology should concern itself with. All rights reserved. as do questions of social and/or community resources not often prioritised by US- American or European types of psychological intervention. then critical psychology – as exactly the critical engagement with the relationships between power and psychology – need equally involve both intel- lectual and practical components. While this is no doubt absolutely crucial.. Derek. of the effects and circumstance of poverty. The pressing concerns of ongoing social inequality. different social and political crises come more immediately to the fore here. Hilde van Vlaenderen and David Neves put it. ative for much critical psychology today. suggesting a reformulation not only of the practices of psychology – and its contours as a discipline – but of how one thinks about its core areas of concern. Hook.CP_Chap01 11/2/04 10:41 am Page 21 Critical psychology: The basic co-ordinates Copyright © 2014. the hope is that a discourse from the South will not only challenge the discourses and institutions of the North but suggest altogether new modes of practice also. if we are properly to ‘follow through’ on critical psychology’s promise as both an intellectual and a practical form of criticism. without formulating alterna- tive ways and means of seeing and acting in the world. a focusing of intellectual activity on theoretical and ideological levels. if mainstream psychology is as much about knowledge as about practice. of a rampant HIV/Aids problem. As two of the book’s contributors. – these are items which are at the top of the agenda as we think of what a refor- mulated and uniquely South African psychology. of globalised underdevelopment or applicable copyright law. Critical Psychology Account: s7393698 . a South African critical psychology needs to move beyond the applied level of ideological critique to consider ways of refashioning itself so as to serve an emancipatory and socially transformative agenda that is properly responsive to the demands of a developing society. a South African critical psychology needs to address and engage as central and even primary the sociopolitical concerns of its location. Critical psychology needs to do more than ‘take apart’ from afar.printed on 8/15/2016 1:12 AM via UNISA AN: 706996 . And in this reformulation. After all. Quite evidently. and a South African critical psychology. It does not carry its critique far enough if it does only this: it remains too far removed from the object of its criticism. Grassroots needs outside of a delineated focus on the singular individual become pressing here. 21 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) . Looking over some of the key texts in critical psychology. Likewise. will be. In post-apartheid South Africa a psychology of political commitment and action involves very practical concerns of redress.

Critical Psychology Account: s7393698 . We still believe that experi. say. politics. It believes psychology is ethical practice. or do this we need to examine the origins and any of the biological sciences. but something far step back to consider exactly what business it deeper and more serious. or the failure to implement that it has not been able to take the necessary the necessary programme. It is so busy doing its business error. sociology. philos- inside the individual. a bad attitude: a disrespect for attempts to understand people in their social authority. Thus we remain effects of these ideas. to make people’s lives better. anthropology. and context. alienation. wilful igno. psychology takes itself out of context psychology has responded with an erratic – it lacks a sense of the specific social and combination of ineffectual concern. a method. know where they came from. a response to a its own stories about itself because it does not principled outrage. Hook. Juta and Company. inner workings to the exclusion of the perhaps we should ask ‘Why?’. This intolerable how those conditions shaped its concepts. brutality and neglect. institutions and practices.. The world is full of is doing. let it psychology is a contextual psychology that be said. and to try to produce committed to the discipline which (sometimes) alternatives. a conceptual know what it is. Now to true knowledge) and the individual (as the we are not so sure. the unshake. But from this point we begin to of interrupting business as usual and examining or applicable copyright law. The critical one fundamental issue: experience cannot be method entails a suspicion of accepted ideas. It is attempting funda- able feeling remains that something is seriously mentally to challenge the foundations on which amiss. except fair uses permitted under U. an uneasy suspicion that something and material worlds. Just as it takes individuals out of suffering. cannot be understood To do this critical psychology draws on many in terms of internal processes or mechanisms other disciplines – including history. a lack of data.printed on 8/15/2016 1:12 AM via UNISA AN: 706996 . way of conceptualising people). our second principle: critical critical psychology is an attitude – and. that all we psychology? Because it is not just an attempt need to do is complete the proper research or to fill a gap within psychology. To concepts of economics. All rights reserved. a social or cultural or community very verge of finally being fixed. that it is all on the than.S. Perhaps the two most influential. and rance and willing collaboration. and that human existence are so much part our everyday common sense cannot simply be reduced to the abstract that is hard to imagine thinking differently. or we were once young and carry weight in the particular cultures in which naive enough to believe it offered. Why does this concern drive us to critical For the most part psychology has been psychology? Because psychology offers. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher. but these ideas ence is important. BOX 2 What is critical psychology? – Anthony Collins Before we ask ‘What is critical psychology?’. because what is know what it is doing. to map out perfect the necessary technique. a sustained it developed. takes seriously the understanding of human Critical psychology is precisely this moment experience. Psychology does not We refuse to let this rest. ment.CP_Chap01 11/2/04 10:41 am Page 22 Critical Psychology Copyright © 2014. sociology. the interconnections psychology? Why does it exist? Before it is a between individuals and their broader environ- theory. because it does not wrong is not simply a mistake. or a body of knowledge. of psychology is that it tends to focus on these economics and everything that can be called 22 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) . or uncritically built on ideas that happened to claims to offer. Derek. politics. Thus. understood in isolation. situation leads us to the first principle: critical methods. The fundamental problem ophy. historical conditions in which it emerged. some neglected area. Why is critical surrounding relationships. attempt to intervene in the problems of human and disastrous. have been science (as the path unhappiness. diverge from most traditional psychology on psychology from the outside. the discipline is built. is wrong. And no matter how often we are told But why is this a critical psychology rather that things are not so bad.

Hook. Derek. All rights reserved. psychology but to transform it to the point colonial studies. but rather borrows and steals useful concepts from its conscience: the insistent voice of self- wherever they may be found. post.printed on 8/15/2016 1:12 AM via UNISA AN: 706996 . nor its sibling. Juta and Company. or applicable copyright law.S. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher. and it deliberately reflection that will not rest until psychology attempts to make conceptual connections with lives up to its own best principles. state the final principle: critical psychology is Critical psychology has a double meaning: a critique as method and goal: neither nihilism critique of psychology. 23 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) . The aim is not to destroy attempt to transform through critical analysis. critical race theory. and all manner of post-structuralisms. Critical Psychology Account: s7393698 . including feminism. It is not the is both inside and outside of psychology. except fair uses permitted under U. and a critical way of nor idealism.CP_Chap01 11/2/04 10:41 am Page 23 Critical psychology: The basic co-ordinates Copyright © 2014. it enemy of psychology. simultaneously a rigorous way of understanding Thus critical psychology is transdisciplinary: it people and a caring profession. Thus we can critical approaches outside the field.. but a sustained and systematic doing psychology. BOX 2 What is critical psychology? – Anthony Collins (continued) ‘cultural studies’. science where it can become what it claims to be: studies.

CP_Chap02 11/2/04 10:23 am Page 24 Chapter 2 Copyright © 2014. Man [sic] is an animal suspended in webs of significance he himself has spun. Hook.printed on 8/15/2016 1:12 AM via UNISA AN: 706996 . is essentially a semiotic one. All rights reserved. illustrating each dimen- sion with examples from traditional Western and indigenous societies Illustrate the counselling and healthcare implications of the notion of worldviews. you should be able to: Critically discuss the context of psychology in developing societies Distinguish between indigenous psychology and indigenisation Define worldviews and the four dimensions of worldviews. or applicable copyright law.S. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher. 5) LEARNING OUTCOMES By the end of this chapter. I take culture to be those webs. . Critical Psychology Account: s7393698 . 24 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) ...’ Geertz (1973.. preferably with your own examples Critically discuss the core components of an African metaphysical system.. except fair uses permitted under U. Psychology: An African perspective Nhlanhla Mkhize ‘The concept of culture I espouse . including a critical appraisal of the notion of a person-in-community. Juta and Company. and the analysis of it to be therefore not an experimental science in search of law[s] but an interpretive one in search of meaning.. Derek.

values and practices from developed to developing societies is a form of cultural 25 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) . In the quest to emulate the natural sciences..S. This framework provides a basis for an African-based people develops in order to explain psychology. & Misra. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher. psychologists have attempted to understand people in developing societies with reference to conceptual categories and theories developed in the West. The same situation applies to research conducted in developing nations. Cultural colonisation The vertical – that is top-down. The research tends to be initiated by psychologists in developed societies. All rights reserved. universal structures of human func- tioning. value-free and universal science. Indigenous theoretical frameworks. 1991). have been imposed on non-Western popu- lations. 1990). that a group of work is presented. Eager to demonstrate the universality of psychological processes such as motivation. and technology (Sinha. emancipatory psychology. They also claim to be free of roots in particular philosophical and value systems. Critical Psychology Account: s7393698 . on the other hand. THE CONTEXT OF PSYCHOLOGY IN DEVELOPING SOCIETIES values and opinions. It is through these worldviews and philosophies that people make basic assumptions sense of themselves and the world. it is argued. It assumes that psychological processes are fixed and ‘deeply hidden’ within individuals. should take into account indigenous people’s languages. 1996). philosophies and worldviews (see Table 2. Western-derived theories. which are assumed to be universal. In line with this universalistic orientation. It was the way we think brought to developing countries as part of the general transfer of knowledge and behave. except fair uses permitted under U.CP_Chap02 11/2/04 10:23 am Page 25 Psychology: An African perspective Copyright © 2014. perception and emotion. INTRODUCTION Traditional Western approaches to psychology are based on certain pre- suppositions about the person and the world. in the world. as well as Modern psychology as we know it is essentially a Western product. Hook. so as to isolate basic underlying psychological mechanisms and describe the invariant laws of their operation (Shweder. psychologists construed their discipline as an objective. resulting from varying cultural contexts. using imported theoretical frameworks (Sinha. Juta and Company. Attempts are made to repli- or applicable copyright law. Its inclusion in teaching and research will give voice to marginalised reality and their African perspectives. Derek. Worldviews shape our attitudes. A critical. one-way – transfer of knowledge. psychologists saw culture as an impediment (Gergen.1 on Worldview: set of page 36).printed on 8/15/2016 1:12 AM via UNISA AN: 706996 . cate studies conducted in developed societies. Traditional psychology seeks to uncover underlying. This will empower marginalised communities as active place and purpose participants in the knowledge-generation process. ideas. Gulerce. A traditional African metaphysical frame. rather than spectators. Lock. Its purpose is to go beyond ‘superficial differences’. This chapter critically reviews the context of psychology in developing soci- eties. 1986). have been marginalised.

hand. The self in traditional psychology is regarded as a bounded.printed on 8/15/2016 1:12 AM via UNISA AN: 706996 . 1997). The end product is autonomous entity: it is defined in that contemporary research and theorising in developing nations are largely terms of its internal irrelevant to the needs of the local populations. The self in traditional psychology is regarded as a are universal. Traditional Western psychology is premised on an independent view of the self. adopts a context-based view. 1990). Derek. 1995).CP_Chap02 11/2/04 10:23 am Page 26 Critical Psychology Copyright © 2014. such as family. and sees self as defined in terms of one’s relationships with others. and status or position within the group. 1996. Sinha. the aim of psychology is to go beyond superficial differences (eg culture) so as to uncover these processes. position. autonomous entity: it is defined in terms of its internal attributes such as thoughts and emotions. THE KNOWING SUBJECT: THE SELF IN TRADITIONAL PSYCHOLOGY Traditional Western ways of knowing draw sharp distinctions between the Psychic unity: knowing subject and the object of her/his knowledge (Greenfield.. 1996. thoughts and Dissatisfaction with the assumptions and values embedded in Western emotions. 26 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) . indepen- dently of social and contextual factors. 1997. It ensures that the developed in traditional world continues to produce and market psychological knowledge and tech- psychology. These are needs such as elimi- attributes such as nating poverty and illiteracy (Nsamenang. Critical Psychology Account: s7393698 . 1992. his or her existence in space and time. He or she is stripped of all particulari- human beings are ties such as gender. bounded. and all the same. remain consumers of Western ideas and technology. Self: colonisation (Gergen et al. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher. Sinha. or applicable copyright law. It has been argued that dently of social and contextual factors. on the other as a bounded. community. 1972). It also assumes that knowledge is value-free. From this perspective. by contrast. 1990). A collectivist approach to self. All rights reserved. regarded nology (eg psychological tests) to developing societies. The assumption that knower is a solitary. Greenfield. Laubscher & McNeil. culture. indepen- psychology has increased in the past two decades or so. psychological science is based on Western cultural presuppositions about the knowing subject and the nature of knowledge (Gergen et al.S. Hook. Juta and Company. The latter. autonomous entity: it is defined in terms of its internal attributes such underlying psychological processes that are inherent in all individuals. except fair uses permitted under U. disinterested subject. It purports that there the like (eg Rawls.

psyche and humankind than in culture. each other up’ (Shweder. mind and will. can be & McCarroll. This view of selfhood shared by many is also known as self-contained individualism (Hermans et al. Also Kitayama. self. 1991. Thus. and way cultural traditions and social practices regulate.CP_Chap02 11/2/04 10:23 am Page 27 Psychology: An African perspective Copyright © 2014. figure and ground. The knower Materialism: theory stands apart from that which is to be known. Thus emerged the view that individuals could be sharply distinguished from the world and each other. Knowledge is not supposed to be affected by the knower’s values and meanings. they are thought to be view of the self established through discretionary choice (Shweder. 1998). such as position within the group. have criticised the notion of value-free practices regulate. The goal of socialisation is not to be autonomous family. and from their customs. and emotion’ (73. It is defined in terms defined in terms of one’s relationships of one’s relationships with others. During this period the Western world witnessed a gradual explained in terms shift from a community/religious orientation to an unprecedented scientific and of matter and materialistic position. 1994). phenomena. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher. emphasis added). Objective knowledge that physical matter is the only reality can be arrived at by anyone who has engaged in the necessary thought processes and that or experimental procedures. This was accompanied by a rebellion against traditions physical and customs. 1991). PLACE OF VALUES Traditional Western approaches to science seek objective knowledge. these societies tends to be context-based (Shweder. while traditional psychology seeks 27 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) . is neither timeless nor universal. Richardson. Collectivist self: Where relationships with others and the social order exist. Rogers feeling. culture in which the The abovementioned view of the self contrasts sharply with conceptions of self is fundamen- the self in indigenous societies and non-Western cultures in general. live ethnic divergences together. require each other.printed on 8/15/2016 1:12 AM via UNISA AN: 706996 . It is a product of the scientific including thought. revolution in the 16th and 17th centuries (Cushman. among others. and jointly make in mind. the human psyche. except fair uses permitted under U. understood as the interdependent THE NATURE OF KNOWLEDGE: WESTERN PSYCHOLOGY AND THE notion of self. son et al. 1996). and dynamically. Hook. This view of and status or selfhood is also called the collectivist or interdependent self (Markus & position within the group. 1990. as thoughts and emotions. but to harmonise one’s interests with those of the collective. resulting less in psychic unity for humankind than in ethnic human psyche. resulting less in divergences in mind. such as family. express. The self in tally context-based. Cultural psychology: study Cultural psychology of the way cultural traditions and social Cultural psychologists. (Clinchy. practitioner and practice. Critical Psychology Account: s7393698 . Cultural psychic unity for psychology also postulates that ‘subject and object. which were seen as a threat to individuality and freedom (Richard. traditions. dialectically. uninterested. and transform transform the or applicable copyright law. Sampson. 1994). 1998). independently of social and contextual factors. community and status or with others. 73). 1991. All rights reserved. Juta and Company.S.. 1992. 1982). Shweder (1991) defines cultural psychology as ‘the study of the express. person and context. 1998). indigenous societies and non-Western 1988) or the independent view of self (Markus & Kitayama. and the social realm in general (Richardson & Fowers. knowledge. self and other. This way of knowing. Derek. self and emotion. also known as ‘separate’ everything. community. 1991.

CP_Chap02 11/2/04 10:23 am Page 28 Critical Psychology Copyright © 2014. Hook. Critical psychology is also opposed to the abstract-isolated notion of the self. then. psychology. 1991. except fair uses permitted under U. 1990. original emphasis). an form. so characteristic of traditional psychology. critical psychology also main- the lived experience tains that all forms of psychological knowledge are grounded in social. It conceptions of psychology (Nsamenang. motivations and behaviours in their cultural context (Martin- From a cultural psychology Baro. Long before colonisation. 1991. Tolman. Parker. Shweder. Bruner (1990) emphasises that an important part of knowledge is not a human psychology is ‘meaning and the processes and transactions involved supposed to be affected by the in the construction of meanings’ (33. 1999. Juta and Company. expe. Critical Psychology Account: s7393698 . Lived experience: term closely associated with phenomenology. one can study the lived typically ignored by psychology – because these reflections may help us to experience of being upset some of the ideological uses of certain psychological notions and the sexually abused or interests of power that they serve. notion that Like Shweder (1991). 1994). or applicable copyright law. psychology cannot be value-free. Maiers. They result from participation in meanings. this chapter argues that the hegemony of Western psycho- psychology cannot logical science can be overcome if we turn our attention to indigenous be value-free. the reflections on life of the marginalised groups in society – those reflections riences. Furthermore. cultural psychology assumes that the subject (scientist) knowledge: and his or her object of knowledge are interdependent.S. Because the expla- In its most basic nations and concepts of psychology feature so strongly in such accounts. Parker (1999) contends that critical human phenomena. In line with the goals of critical perspective. ‘lived experi- ence’ refers to real important part of such an exercise is an examination of how dominant forms life. Rather. needs to engage with the values and meaning systems of scientists or INDIGENOUS PSYCHOLOGIES researchers as well The call for indigenous approaches to psychology stems from the realisation as those of local that indigenous peoples of the world were never passive recipients of experi- actors. Objective objective knowledge. manner in which they reflect upon their lived experience. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher. What becomes important here is that we consider hypothetical. including the all presuppositions. as opposed to of psychology operate here. ence. 1991). and operate ideologically in the service of certain laboratory or interest and power groups. 1992).. a LINKS WITH CRITICAL PSYCHOLOGY school of philosophy The abovementioned objections to traditional Western psychology are consis- that seeks to study tent with the goals of critical psychology. 1994. It needs to engage with the values and meaning systems of scientists or researchers and well as those of local actors. indigenous peoples were actively creating 28 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) . the symbolic systems afforded by the culture (Bruner. From a cultural psychology perspective. against.printed on 8/15/2016 1:12 AM via UNISA AN: 706996 . cultural of being racially discriminated and historical contexts (Maiers. Derek. All rights reserved. focusing entirely on psychology aims to reflect upon the diverse ways in which men and women of them by suspending various cultures and classes create meaning in their lives. Thus. These meanings are knower’s values and not realised by individuals acting in isolation. Tolman. 1994). it aims to restore concreteness to our understanding of psychological functioning by locating human values.

These are challenges such as illness and death. To take this into account. and methodological According to Kumar (cited in Sinha. Juta and Company. Structurally. indigenisation may take place frameworks with the at the structural. This includes the use of locally tive and theoretical levels. a distinction should be made between indigenous psychologies and indigenisation. 1993). mental (laboratory).printed on 8/15/2016 1:12 AM via UNISA AN: 706996 . unique elements of the culture in tion refers to the nation’s organisational and institutional capabilities to question. Indigenisation The definitions of indigenous psychology offered above focus narrowly on the role of local frameworks in the interpretation of human experience. sation can occur at works and metatheories that are consistent with the sociocultural experiences. conjectures. psychosocial and other forms of knowledge. assumptions. structural. Ho (1998) also considers indigenous psychologies to be ‘the assumptions and study of human behavior and mental processes within a cultural context that metaphors – relies on values. Over a period of time concepts. and theoretical levels. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher. rather than experi. methodologies. world- views and assumptions are developed to address these problems (Lock. indigenous psychologies refer to forms of knowledge that arise out of the – which bear on social and cultural realities of the people concerned. definition) and statements pertaining to how to relate to others and the natural classifications. Indigenisation is an attempt to blend imported theoretical and methodological frameworks Indigenisation: attempt to blend with the unique elements of the culture in question (Sinha. and other resources together with notions embedded indigenous to the specific ethnic or cultural group under investigation’ (94). Indigeni- 1992). 1993. Hook. conjectures. Substantive or content models to make or applicable copyright law. except fair uses permitted under U. It aims to imported theoretical transform foreign models to make them suitable to local cultural contexts. topics. Among these are conceptions of what it means to be a person (self. indigenisa.S. Heelas (1981) defines indigenous psychologies as ‘the cultural views. behaviours.. They are not imposed psychological from outside. theoretical indigenisation seeks to develop conceptual frame. however. For example. All rights reserved. 1981). Finally. theories. in social institutions Thus. topics’ (3). Indigenous theories. Every group is confronted by chal- lenges and problems in the course of its historical development. Finally. Indigeni- produce and disseminate relevant knowledge. them suitable to indigenisation could be achieved by applying psychology to address national local cultural policy issues (eg health and educational policies) (Sinha. Nsamenang sation aims to (1992) laments that the growth of indigenous knowledge in Africa is hampered transform foreign by limited publication and technological resources. derived reference systems as well as borrowed theoretical frameworks that 29 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) . Derek. Critical Psychology Account: s7393698 . given that people do not live in impenetrable cultural enclaves. contexts. indigenous communities had to develop practices and conceptual frameworks to deal with problems they encountered in life. Other frameworks cannot be ignored. environment. 1993). Nsamenang. Likewise. substan- worldviews and goals of the people in question.CP_Chap02 11/2/04 10:23 am Page 29 Psychology: An African perspective Copyright © 2014. and metaphors – together psychologies: with notions embedded in social institutions – which bear on psychological cultural views. They also investigate mundane (everyday). 1993). classifications. indigenous psychologies aim to address the needs of the people under investigation (Sinha. belief systems. concepts. substantive.

I should like to address the possible objection that or her existence in the worldview propounded here is dated.printed on 8/15/2016 1:12 AM via UNISA AN: 706996 . (Nsamenang. continue to rely on indigenous theories of illness and interventions. psychological view in which the self is The worldviews of a society regarded as a bounded. as psychologists. have to proclaim that these ways of life are ‘dated’? If rural inhabitants abandon their ‘dated’ ways of life. psychology in developing societies tends to be confined to the modern sectors. Self-contained have been transformed to suit the needs of local populations (Sinha. 1992). Acculturation: the reader to ponder these questions. among others. 1987). The chapter provides a conceptual framework to facilitate the indigenisation of autonomous entity psychology in Africa. 1993). Unfortu- nately.CP_Chap02 11/2/04 10:23 am Page 30 Critical Psychology Copyright © 2014. This is based on the realisation that it is not possible to – defined in terms arrive at a balanced understanding of psychological processes in developing of its internal attributes such as societies without a critical awareness of these societies’ assumptions about life. among others? Or are we creating doubly marginalised people. I begin by posing the typical Bakhtinian (1981) questions: Who says that the worldview is dated? Based on what information? And whose voice/perspective and interests does he or she represent? Far from being dated. this traditional chapter focuses on theoretical indigenisation. To address this objection. deprived of their own cultural heritage and yet unable to partake meaningfully in modern ways of life? Let me leave or applicable copyright law. Vasudev & Hummel.. can we guarantee that they will be able to participate in and benefit from modern psychology. participate in studies conducted by psychologists. the self-contained individual is stripped of all DO WE NEED AN AFRICAN-BASED PSYCHOLOGY? particularities such Contesting ideas of a ‘dated’ worldview as gender. and of his Before going any further.S. 1974. The fact that 30 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) . What right do we. Psychology in general is based on the worldviews of the white middle class. individualism: While recognising the importance of other forms of indigenisation. culture. to Like the idea of the the exclusion of the worldviews and values of people in developing societies knowing subject. Critical Psychology Account: s7393698 . if ever. 1991. It has hardly permeated the majority of people in rural settings (Nsamenang. modification of the culture of a group or an individual as Selective acculturation and the racism of Western philosophy a result of contact The selective acculturation of urban Africans into European ways of life tacitly with a different reinforces the assumption that European experiences and philosophical tradi- culture. 1992). languages and worldviews through which they experience the independently of world (Huebner & Garrod. All rights reserved. philosophies. Simpson. Hook. Rural inhabitants. Juta and Company. social and contextual factors. who hardly. given the widespread influences of space and time. the worldview continues to guide the lives of many people in traditional sectors of African society. except fair uses permitted under U. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher. acculturation and globalisation. thoughts and A proper understanding of a people should begin with an examination of the emotions. tions explain the totality of human experiences all over the world. position. Derek.

Historical movement in it – that is in its northern part – belong to the Asiatic or European world’ (99). Critical Psychology Account: s7393698 . Although there is some degree of 31 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) . who hardly. The danger of importing Western systems of understanding If one considers that critical psychology is concerned with the manner in which men and women in various classes and cultures construct and reflect upon their action and experiences in the world (Parker. Hook. 5).printed on 8/15/2016 1:12 AM via UNISA AN: 706996 . 1993). Derek. 1993. to be naturally inferior to whites. then there must be a place or applicable copyright law. this is consistent with relating to. 1999). one side. Likewise. is no historical part of the world. (Psychologists have never adequately addressed the question why accultura- tion in South Africa tends to be unilateral.S. except fair uses permitted under U. Onyewuenyi. intellectual and otherwise. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher. There never was a civilised nation of any complexion other than white’ (cited in Serequeberhan. Juta and Company. What right do we. participate in studies conducted by psychologists. have to proclaim that these ways of life are ‘dated’? acculturation tends to be unidirectional perhaps bolsters the view that Western ways of life are better. 121). if ever. involving the views of some major European philosophers. as psychologists.. and African ways superstitious and backward.. 1991..) In a way. rather than bi-directional. among other things. it has no movement or development to exhibit. including psychology. All rights reserved.. who contended that nothing or affecting only of note ever came out of Africa (Laubscher & McNeil.CP_Chap02 11/2/04 10:23 am Page 31 Psychology: An African perspective Copyright © 2014. Hegel (1956) argued that ‘[Africa] . These philosophers had a major influence in the history of Western ideas. Hume is quoted as follows: ‘I am apt to suspect the Negroes . 1995.. with blacks being assimilated into Unilateral: white ways of life. of developed rather than devel- oping societies’ (Moghaddam. continue to rely on indigenous theories of illness and interventions. It could thus be inferred that their views laid a foundation for the marginalisation of African philosophical and other knowledge systems. These knowledge traditions ‘reflect the needs. for indigenous conceptions of human development in psychology. It does not make sense to explain exclusively the psychological needs and experiences of people in developing societies with reference to conceptual categories and philosophical systems imported from the West. Rural inhabitants. For example.

about 80% to 90% of people in developing societies rely on traditional healers for healthcare. 1993. The same could be said of the training of psychologists in South Africa. 1986). universality in the challenges facing human societies in the course of their development (eg the need for self-definition. dealing with birth and death). The oppression of traditional African sociopsychological frameworks Why do social scientists in developing societies favour Western theoretical frameworks? Is it because indigenous frameworks have fallen out of favour among the local people? I concur with Moghaddam (1993) that ‘traditional cultural systems survive in traditional sectors of Third World societies [that are] supported by traditional industries and the social and psychological knowledge provided by traditional religions and philosophies’ (121). is created (Moghaddam. 125). the modern sector’ (Moghaddam. 1993). Critical Psychology Account: s7393698 .S. Writing with respect to Iranian psychologists. The question is: Whose interests does this situation serve? Focusing on the needs of a society The process by which new subjectivities are created does not end with under- graduate education (see discussion in Box 1 below): it continues at the post- graduate level. the disintegration of extended 32 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) . Derek. who are their mentors. except fair uses permitted under U. For example. whose views and lifestyles are similar to those of middle and or applicable copyright law. All rights reserved.CP_Chap02 11/2/04 10:23 am Page 32 Critical Psychology Copyright © 2014. and more in tune with. Even at the level of research. and different from those of their own (traditional) societies. Marginalisation of these perspectives thus contributes to the oppression of the people who rely on them. cultural variations exist in the way these challenges are resolved (Heelas. He maintains that the teaching.. Clinchy.printed on 8/15/2016 1:12 AM via UNISA AN: 706996 . May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher. upper class Westerners. of which the Western is the most dominant. like the people who espouse them. 1981). Through the process of training. according to the World Health Organisation. Juta and Company. problems of illiteracy. Far from being dated. Hook. These knowledge systems are oppressed in the same way that women’s concerns were oppressed in psychology (Belenky. research and profes- sional practice of psychologists ‘is oriented toward. with limited access to modern healthcare. African conceptions of sociopsychological processes have been rendered invisible by the competition between cultural systems. Moghaddam (1993) laments the separation of indigenous psychologists from the traditional sectors of their society. who rely most on services premised on traditional African worldviews. a new (African) elite. Goldberger & Tarule. On the other hand. it is usually the most disadvantaged segments of the popula- tion. Most importantly. Tradi- tional African sociopsychological frameworks are not used because. there is a tendency to encourage students to pursue research questions that are more relevant to the needs of the modern sector (eg human-computer interac- tions). they belong in the category of marginalised knowl- edge.

This is captured in the saying ‘Umuntu mapped out by their discipline. behav. The The training was alienating because it was training of psychologists. psychoanalysis. the critical question is: To and humanistic approaches seek to help individ. while psychoanalytical the world. except fair uses permitted under U.. This socialisation about the self and the world. It is only then that critical psychology will achieve its emancipatory alienation caused project. other human beings’. ties. Derek. 1993. institutions of higher education has been largely bringing. 1998) rather than these theories take the individual as the primary psychology. the teaching of and the world. was initiated into experience and the world were conspicuous by an individualistic way of thinking about the self their absence. into poverty. Shutte. characterised by an individualistic and iourism focuses on the relationship between disembedded orientation towards the self and stimuli and responses. 1999. Critical Psychology Account: s7393698 . It creates specific had emphasised the relational nature of person- subjects who do things in a particular way. focused on changing people’s individual development: it cognitions.CP_Chap02 11/2/04 10:23 am Page 33 Psychology: An African perspective Copyright © 2014. and humanistic theology (eg Louw. and institutional practices shape individual development: it should produce societies. take a back seat. Earlier intervention efforts. given my largely communal up. Again. Teffo & Roux. unit of analysis. I. initiates the opposite of the socialisation I had received (indigenous) students into a new way of thinking in the process of growing up. Juta and Company. Consciously or unconsciously. This includes research into poverty. All rights reserved. We had to master theories such as left to traditions such as philosophy and behaviourism. The assumption was that cognitive change would result in behav- should produce ioural change. approaches. A critical Those who do tackle such issues run the risk of having their research ignored psychology should because it does not address ‘hard-core’ psychological issues. illiteracy and alienation caused by globalisation. whose advantage? family systems. based on practices shape research conducted in developed societies. 2001.printed on 8/15/2016 1:12 AM via UNISA AN: 706996 . among other illiteracy and things. The context in which the person psychological training creates new subjectivi- is embedded is ignored. educational system and the African elite. and learning under conditions of abject poverty. 33 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) . These efforts failed miserably because they did not take into research that account the sociocultural context of people in developing societies. as hood. 2001. Let me illustrate ngumuntu ngabantu’. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher. At first this was strange and African knowledge systems in South African alienating. African conceptions of like many others in my cohort.S. for example. not only be concerned with the Agendas of an African critical psychology way in which cultural and The Aids pandemic has aptly brought home the importance of conducting institutional relevant research in developing societies. This includes research research that furthers the needs of developing societies. BOX 1 Oppression of African knowledge systems in education A reflection on the oppression of traditional uals to realise their innermost potential through African knowledge systems cannot be complete the process of individuation (separation) and without a brief overview of the complicity of the self-actualisation. For example. A critical furthers the needs psychology should thus not only be concerned with the way in which cultural of developing or applicable copyright law. Hook. which roughly translates this by reflecting briefly on my first encounter as ‘A person becomes a human being through with psychology as an undergraduate student. by globalisation. Even to date. Apart from being Western in origin.

response behaviourism was relevant to the interests of capital and its managers. is organised into contact with other bodies of knowledge (Maffi. even Watson’s stimulus- sort of ‘cure all’. This has been the case with independent Christian generation to another within a churches in Africa. this has been done. The dynamic interpenetration of worldviews Let me hasten to address a common criticism of attempts to introduce indigenous knowledge systems to academic and other forms of discourse. 1998). To understand the assumptions. values. industrialisation and of themselves and the world. Juta and Company. Derek.printed on 8/15/2016 1:12 AM via UNISA AN: 706996 . except fair uses permitted under U. 1991).S. Rather than arguing for a complete break with health etc.CP_Chap02 11/2/04 10:23 am Page 34 Critical Psychology Copyright © 2014. One cannot talk about through which African belief systems without taking history into account. Changes and adapta- people make sense tions resulting from colonisation. which is supposedly free of cultural influences. Rather. I have written at length about the relevance or otherwise of Western-derived cure for diseases. problems. Hook. They are thus capable of undergoing passed on from one innovation and renewal. As Tolman (1991) argues. The ideas presented in this chapter are neither static nor the sole deter- generally refers to minant of African thought systems. These churches have successfully interwoven traditional given society. African and Christian belief systems (Oosthuisen. My objection to them is based on the view that they cannot be exclusively used to explain human needs across cultures and across time. by all Africans. theoretical frameworks.) This criticism fails to take into account the dynamic nature of cultural meaning Culture: systems. All rights reserved. to the exclusion of local people’s attempts to account for their own life experiences.. ideas about illness and penetration of various worldviews. This cultural meaning systems. norms complexity of human experience. as they come or applicable copyright law. Cultural meaning systems are always in knowledge that is dialogue with other bodies of knowledge. The objection is often raised that this reifies culture. Neither is it implied that African frameworks are a panacea to resolve all sociopsychological problems among Africans. Western-type education. a sense (Tolman. one-to-one correspondence between language. systematically and is known in anthropology as No one unifying African metaphysics ‘cultural meaning It is important to note that the views presented here are not necessarily shared systems’. African scholars are not in agreement about the existence of a 34 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) . a meaning system and how it is employed in real life. Western theoretical frameworks do have a relevance of some sort in developing societies. or a complete immersion in them. difficul- ties. Panacea: Possibility of dialogue between theoretical frameworks kind of remedy. Critical Psychology Account: s7393698 . 1989). we have to take into account the dynamic inter- of behaviour. Exposure to multiple world- incorporates views means that there cannot be a simple. this criticism is never levelled against Western psychology. It exposure to Western media need to be accounted for. These frameworks are not irrelevant in an absolute ailments. (Paradoxically. attention should be body of knowledge paid to processes by which they unfold or fail to unfold over time. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher. In the past. the purpose is to show that a critical psychology should be willing to engage in a dialogue with theoretical frameworks emanating from the life perspectives of the people in question.

there is nevertheless an approach to reality shared by a number of Africans (Nsamenang. 1999). among other issues (Jensen. These assumptions provide a frame of reference to address problems in life. especially in counselling tions of reality. and our relation to others AN AFRICAN METAPHYSICAL SYSTEM and the environ- ment – our Defining metaphysics grappling with time. Worldviews provide responses to a set of core questions that people in all cultures have had to respond to in the course of their development (Sue & Sue. and their relation to others and the environment. person and time (Myers. universe. Juta and Company. unifying African worldview or metaphysics. Although there may not be a unifying African metaphysics. in psychology – has excluded or and the relational orientation (Jensen. or applicable copyright law.S. especially Africans. especially in the regions south of the Sahara. activity orientation. All rights reserved. 1997). 1978). their position space. 1991. Worldviews contain the following components: time The spread of Western concepts and categories of understanding – particularly orientation.printed on 8/15/2016 1:12 AM via UNISA AN: 706996 . causality and existence. except fair uses permitted under U. 1992). values and opinions as well as the way we think and behave (Sue. 1999). Metaphysics is concerned with a people’s conceptions of reality. 1988). 1988). these views have been associated with large parts of Africa. Sue marginalised the lived experience of & Sue. The worldview described is an branch of philo- attempt to explain human reality from an indigenous African perspective sophy concerned (Myers. Worldviews shape our attitudes. the universe and notions of causality. Historically. The table overleaf shows general cultural others. To say that there is an African worldview does not mean every member of a culture should subscribe to it. differences in worldviews. 1998) and other indigenous societies. in the same manner that not every European Metaphysics: subscribes to individualism as a way of life. As a result. Hook. Ignoring alternative worldviews limits practitioners’ ability to with our concep- deal with people from different cultural backgrounds. What is a worldview? A worldview is a set of basic assumptions that a group of people develops in order to explain reality and their place and purpose in the world. It represents 35 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) . people-nature orientation. 1997. position in the and healthcare (see Boxes 1 and 2). These are questions about the nature of the world (what is the world like?) and the meaning of person- hood. Derek. Its central tenets are beliefs about God. there has been a tendency of late to approach metaphysical issues in a culture-specific way (eg Wiredu. 1992. Teffo & Roux. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher. Thus. they can be regarded as typical of African metaphysical thinking.. in the universe. Critical Psychology Account: s7393698 . 1984. Lock.CP_Chap02 11/2/04 10:23 am Page 35 Psychology: An African perspective Copyright © 2014. 1981.

Metaphysical of reality to be systems may be seen as cultural models (Quinn & Holland. Hall & Hall. This emanates question: What is the preferred mode of from the belief that one’s value as a person is determined by human activity? personal accomplishments (Sue & Sue. indigenous cultures define the self in terms of one’s relationships with others. (Ivey. Time is organised A culture may emphasise history and into linear segments. and what can be known about systems (Miller. For example. Other cultures. a situation that holds in many Anglo societies. the family to be in the future and the community. has with ancestors (the past) and one’s fellow human beings (the the present. ancestors. 1999) The relational orientation Traditional Western cultures regard the self as a bounded entity. space. On the other hand. Ontology: people’s attempts to grapple with fundamental questions pertaining to describes the nature existence. This view of selfhood is also known as self-contained environment individualism (Sampson. Orientation to nature For cultures that emphasise the past. 1998). 1988. Hook. 1991).printed on 8/15/2016 1:12 AM via UNISA AN: 706996 . The ideal is to live harmoniously with ancestors. Self-awareness involves an passage of time per se that is important. 1990). as well spiritual fulfillment. Juta and Company. 1997). and its possible a world in which defects. traditional African societies believe that there should be everything is inter. emphasise being or being-in-becoming.. living be understood? harmoniously with each other. but the relationship one appreciation of where one is coming from. 1993. community and status or position within the group. (Myers.CP_Chap02 11/2/04 10:23 am Page 36 Critical Psychology Copyright © 2014. 1987) or meaning studied. on the future. Most indigenous African societies emphasise both the past and the present. These are the taken-for-granted models through which or applicable copyright law. external forces beyond one’s This dimension answers the question: How control determine life (eg God. Critical Psychology Account: s7393698 . Table 2. emphasise mastery and control over the environment. Traditional communities. as well as where one is likely present). people and nature co-exist. 1988). Ivey & Simerk-Morgan. harmony and interdependence between elements in the cosmos. 1983. marked by what people are doing at a time tradition. and fate). on the other hand.1 Components of a worldview Description Examples Time orientation Western societies tend to emphasise the future. Future- oriented cultures. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher. traditional African Metaphysical ontologies not only prescribe what is but also incorporate worldviews described in this chapter posit ideals of what can be. time and causality (Teffo & Roux. (Sue & Sue. 1999). For cultures is the relationship of people to nature to that emphasise the present. Derek. on the other hand. Time and space orientation are other hand. except fair uses permitted under U. the here and now. 1997) Human activity Traditional Western cultures place value on doing over the being or The human activity dimension answers the being-in-becoming (the process) mode of activity. the ideal cosmic and natural order. people make sense of the world and their behaviour in it. Hermans et al. It is not the intertwined. 1992) or the independent view of self (Markus & Kitayama. Paying attention to context and relationships is thus more important than the mathematical division of time. Children are socialised to harmonise their interests with those of their family and the community. For example. Disconnec- connected. it. concentrate on the past and the present. This mode values harmony with others and the social milieu.S. such as family. All rights reserved. This is concerned with how the self is People are defined in terms of internal attributes such as thoughts defined in relation to the Other and the and emotions. tion between parts comprising the whole is undesirable and immoral or 36 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) . or the distant (Hall.

one way to address this to escape ‘bewitchment’ by members of his shortcoming is to incorporate indigenous world- extended family. He was finding it difficult the spiritual world. Except for the I’ve cited this case study to show that the eldest sister. he could make peace with them.. Bheki is the 6th eldest Centre reluctantly because he knew that coun- in a family of nine children. in Northern KwaZulu-Natal. He was referred to the eldest son. This worldview is not part of felt like this since 1994. Prior to returning for his experience. Thus. Rawls. awareness of this framework is indispensable if one were wanting to understand a people’s conception of moral reasoning. He maintained that his to concentrate on his studies. father into a zombie. to the city thing to do. Derek. Mr quick to argue incompetence. conceptions of illness. he was not father’s soul was being held captive by making satisfactory academic progress. 1984. nature of human relationships in traditional He attributed this to family problems. It is based on a con- years. father’s soul was wandering aimlessly. He was also worried that. Unfortunately he died before views into the training of psychologists. However. Given the abovementioned differences between traditional African and European understandings of the relationship between the person and his or her environment. without He resides in one of the townships surrounding finding peace. siblings better. From an his original family. 1972). passed away in ‘did not understand traditional problems’. 1981. Moral actors are abstract subjects who derive moral principles rationally and independently of history and time (Kohlberg. but the situation had formal psychological training in many institu- become more pronounced over the years. 1974). who now lives independently. who had noted that he was sometimes Bheki came to the Student Counselling ‘day-dreaming’ in class. Critical Psychology Account: s7393698 . improve his education. conceive moral development individual- istically. many students are or applicable copyright law. as the a major urban city. 37 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) . enabling him to support his bilities. and consequences to the self and others. tions. the same fate would befall him if he Student Counselling Centre by one of his happened to die before rectifying the situation.S. Traditional Western theories. He was born in a polygamous family. view of the self. preferring to ‘refer Nkosi decided to get married and stay away from the person to a traditional healer’. except fair uses permitted under U. on the other hand. He moved away from ethical perspective. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher. that might be an appropriate Nkandla. it is unfair to declare one culture morally deficient based on the conceptual categories of another (Simpson. Hook. All rights reserved. lecturers. Bheki had been a teacher for 5 different theory of illness. They all live with sellors ‘did not understand traditional problems’. He maintained that whenever he To make sense of it. all client relied on a different worldview to account his siblings are unemployed. their mother. Juta and Company.CP_Chap02 11/2/04 10:23 am Page 37 Psychology: An African perspective Copyright © 2014. responsi- improve his income. When 1994. unethical. single black student. No wonder the client felt the counsellors Bheki’s father. rather than an abstract. He was worried that his Bheki is a 29-year-old. He decided to pursue further studies to nected. BOX 2 Worldviews. Thus. This would in turn The case study is about relationships. He had African societies. who is a pensioner. There was always tension within the family. and counselling The following case study illustrates the impor.printed on 8/15/2016 1:12 AM via UNISA AN: 706996 . Mr Nkosi. The client that someone interfered with the transition of presented at a Student Counselling Centre at one his father’s soul from the world of the living to of the local universities. presented with this case. who had turned his and identifying particulars have been altered. His name umthakathi (a sorcerer). This worldview espouses a to university. one needs to understand the tried to study he became drowsy and fell asleep. Bheki believes tance of worldviews in counselling.

Derek. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher. sometimes secretly.. “right” and “wrong” about conditions of life’ (Much & Harré. People in particular circumstances. except fair uses permitted under U. and hence oriented towards concrete (pparticular) existence. Professional codes emphasise the fore.printed on 8/15/2016 1:12 AM via UNISA AN: 706996 . Critical Psychology Account: s7393698 . which requires that Nurse: The conflict was that I really did not people be treated according to what is fair or know what to do. universalisable and free of Much & Harré roots in historically particular metaphysical systems. The nurse’s initial examination revealed understanding and application of ethics. which prize an abstract. generalised view of the self. and is social context. BOX 3 Marginalised worldviews in healthcare The fact that a worldview is marginalised does do not give guidelines on how to act ethically not mean that it ceases to function. Professional codes of ethics are based on woman for further assessment or Western assumptions about the person. The The nurses interviewed were black Africans following excerpt is from Gambu (2000). the social context. as expected. came to be valued over that a culture’s the body in Western thought. Metaphysics and psychology A related issue is the relationship between metaphysical ontologies and psychological topics. beneficence. Akbar (1984) and Nobles (1972) have argued that they can serve dominant local as a foundation of an African-based psychology. (See Much & Harré. (c) these ontologies are derived theories of the principle of cosmic unity. for an account of how spirit and.) psychological Metaphysical ontologies are central to traditional African understandings discourse is a reflection of of the world. who saw mainly black patients. and the natural order. These are (a) the hierarchy of beings. Hook. the Western history of ideas has created an illusion that psychological theories are objective. no organic basis for the patient's blindness. four inter- metaphysical dependent philosophical assumptions bearing directly on psychological topics ontologies. or applicable copyright law. All psychologies are somehow ‘connected to underlying metaphysical ontologies which .. Unfortunately. She was interested in how mic nurse who saw a 50-year-old partially blind traditional African worldviews influence nurses’ patient. tional Western worldviews. later. In the next section. continue to rely on it. From these ontologies are derived theories of the person. Her Nurses are guided by a professional Code of own beliefs about Zulu traditions then came to Ethics.CP_Chap02 11/2/04 10:23 am Page 38 Critical Psychology Copyright © 2014. All rights reserved. which requires professionals to Gambu: What was the ethical dilemma for you protect patients from harm and to promote in that situation? their welfare.. Juta and Company. 1994. (1994) maintain 1994. From are discussed. The the person. Gambu studied ethical decision-making in the The following extract involves an ophthal- nursing profession. It differs from tradi- the natural order. which is the freedom of individuals further assessment. They should I advise her to consult a 38 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) . the mind. Rather than referring the patient for autonomy. she secretly to hold and act upon their own opinions advised her to consult a traditional healer: provided they do not violate others’ rights. Much & Harré (1994) maintain that a culture’s psycho- logical discourse is a reflection of dominant local metaphysical ontologies. order things in specific ways with regard to what is “good” and “bad”.S. Should I refer this due. 308). the worldview presented below extols connection and interdependence. and justice. (b) the notion of vitality. and (d) the communal view of personhood.

Intricate webs of relationships exist between organisms and objects in the hierarchy (Figure 2. consists of human beings. original emphasis) which is different to our beliefs. According to Ngubane 39 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) . Ruch & Anyanwu. Open dialogue with this perspective will at the hospital. Juta and Company. BOX 3 Marginalised worldviews in healthcare (continued) traditional healer? The conflict was areas before. We have our own beliefs and customs also saw many instances where tradi- while at the same time. approach to ethics.printed on 8/15/2016 1:12 AM via UNISA AN: 706996 . This way. Different levels of being Inanimate objects and plants occupy the lowest level on the hierarchy. 1977. But. Critical Psychology Account: s7393698 . Beings and objects in the universe are organised hierarchically (Mbiti. 2000. They Intermediate or applicable copyright law. which Ngubane (1977) in African calls the intermediate world. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher. they have no direct influence world: level in the on superior beings such as human beings. including theories of illness. 1981). we at the same time know that there This extract has been cited not because the are customs which we should follow. The aim is so the [ethical dilemma] for me was to highlight the shortcomings of a universalistic in not knowing what to do. This shows that been to see a traditional healer marginalised worldviews do not die out. except fair uses permitted under U.S.1). Human beings can metaphysics that communicate directly or indirectly with the living-dead (ancestors) (Mbiti. 1991). Hook.. The hierarchy of beings Traditionally. been Nurse: I secretly told her to consult a tradi. consists of human beings. part of medical discourse. 68. in our tional healing was beneficial.CP_Chap02 11/2/04 10:23 am Page 39 Psychology: An African perspective Copyright © 2014. As a result. Derek. have very little life force of their own. the but I consoled myself that I had done many indigenous people who rely on them to the right thing because I knew that make sense of their experiences will be empow- there are things that cannot be cured ered. All rights reserved. 1991. people there believe also the fact that we as black people strongly in traditional customs. nurse acted ethically (or otherwise). The nature and direction of influence is determined by the amount of life force (energy or power. I have worked in rural also enhance ethical conduct. training we are taught what to do. Useful emotionally? aspects of African worldviews should be incor- Nurse: It was a very difficult decision for me porated into patient treatment. Had traditional African Gambu: What did you eventually do? worldviews. continue to operate underground. see discussion below) possessed by each object or organism. Animals occupy the level immedi- hierarchy of being ately above that of objects and plants. They before. the nurse would have tional healer whom I knew. It is thus Gambu: How did your decision make you feel important to engage openly with them. Africans believe that all things in the universe are connected ontologically to one other. (Gambu. Each object or organism is dependent upon and capable of influ- encing and being influenced by others. Ngubane. and she freely discussed the issue with her colleagues eventually confessed that she had (rather than acting secretly). The next level. who occupy the next level on the hierarchy.

they can rational beings with make their concerns known to their relatives through dreams. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher. Integrated ancestors are capable of communicating with God on behalf ascribe to ourselves. of their relatives. those who have had rituals performed for duties we would them. COMMUNITY OF while what we have INTEGRATED in common recedes ANCESTORS to the background. of humans. Hook.1 Relationships between elements in the hierarchy of beings 40 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) . GOD on the other hand. history. Generalised versus (1977). Ancestors. people’s individu- ality. except fair uses permitted under U. their relatives (Teffo & Roux. their relatives. whose world is both analogous and contiguous to It is what we have in common that that of human beings. PLANTS & INANIMATE Ancestors.printed on 8/15/2016 1:12 AM via UNISA AN: 706996 . once rituals performed and remain Direct communication between God and human beings. Then there is the same rights and the world of integrated ancestors. continue to interact with. If we adopt the stand. Figure 2. and for whom rituals are performed. Derek. Critical Psychology Account: s7393698 . they are other’ requires us to see all individuals as incapable of interceding with God on human beings’ behalf. WORLD OF THE RECENTLY DECEASED Integrated INTERMEDIATE WORLD: ancestors: Human beings ancestors who are capable of communicating with God on behalf of ANIMALS their relatives. They do not proceed directly to ancestorhood. First. Human beings maintain a link the individuality or with their ancestors through acts of libation and sacrifices. continue Indicates bi-directional communication to interact with. whose OBJECTS world is both analogous and Legend: contiguous to that or applicable copyright law. However. may be invoked. interested in the although very rare. All rights reserved. rather than affairs of. the world of the ancestors is divided into two. and remain interested in the matters.. affairs of. Proceed to integrated state. 1998). Juta and Company. who is rarely invoked the other. until their relatives have the ‘generalised performed rituals of integration on their behalf. view of the self as initially they remain in an in-between state. and concrete identity take centre stage. point of the self as the ‘concrete other’. It is through the concrete identity of ancestors that human beings communicate with God.CP_Chap02 11/2/04 10:23 am Page 40 Critical Psychology Copyright © 2014. While in this state. directly.S. there is the world concrete self: of the recently deceased.

thus giving them audience with God. 1992. resulting in the misrepresentation of African belief systems. These standards include promoting inter- dependence and harmony within one’s family and community. It is believed that the world of iinyanya is no different from that of human beings. Once rituals of integration – ukubuyisa. because of connotations associated with the English word. It breaks the chain of communication between individuals and 41 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) . 1977). However. from an African point of view? To begin with. The iinyanya are moral paragons or exemplars of good conduct.. Swannell.S.printed on 8/20/2016 4:03 AM via UNISA AN: 706996 . Ejizu. The latter need the former to perform rituals on their behalf. Sometimes a person does not have to die to be considered inyanya (Dzobo. literally. Who is an ancestor. This confusion is often reflected in the view that Africans worship ancestors (Dzobo. Derek.CP_Chap02 11/2/04 10:23 am Page 41 Psychology: An African perspective Copyright © 2014. Hook. Mbiti. These are or applicable copyright law. 1991). to bring their ubu-nyanya (ancestorhood) to completion. Nevertheless. Their superior moral values and principles continue to be cherished. 1992). may be referred to as iinyanya. adopted as normative standards of conduct. Critical Psychology Account: s7393698 . All rights reserved. This elevates them to an influential status. The role of ancestors The notion of ancestors has caused a great deal of confusion in African schol- arship. Izinyanya and the living The relationship between the living and izinyanya is one of interdependence. Connec- tion with God through izinyanya is considered essential for family unity and prosperity (Ngubane. izinyanya sanction bad conduct by with- drawing their interest in family matters. Africans conceive ancestors differently. Izinyanya continue to live an exemplary life in their world. it usually remains essential that integration rituals be performed after death. 2000. This is a spiritual community of other family members who lived exemplary lives. Inyanya Only those who lived a life characterised by high moral standards can be elevated to the status of an inyanya. The withdrawal of izinyanya is undesirable. whose lives are worthy of emulation. They also remain interested in their families’ affairs. As guardians of morality. to return the spirit of the ancestor home – have been performed. The situation is complicated by the fact that in English the word ‘ancestor’ means any person from whom one is descended (Geddie. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher. 1901/1964. 1992). Juta and Company. I propose that the word iinyanya or izinyanya (plural for isiXhosa and isiZulu respectively) be substituted for ancestors. This means that they can now negotiate with God on behalf of their descendants. except fair uses permitted under U. Older members of the family. the deceased who were good moral exemplars join the community of iinyanya. Not every person qualifies to be an inyanya (singular).

140). The notion of in each part. God’s Holistic/holism: omnipresence is consistent with the holistic worldview. It refers to dynamic creativity. because they partake in this creative life force. The creativity of God’s power is manifest in the changing seasons. thought to be the most precious gift from God. The Basotho/ Tswana refer to a person’s life force as seriti. human beings. and other creatures and creations lower in the hierarchy. All rights reserved. It is extended to izinyanya. which means ‘The person is (the) Divine’. except fair uses permitted under U. material and imma- Life force: energy or power terial. That is. both terms mean ‘the shadow’. Derek. 1992). Literally. Rituals and acts of libation are not ancestor worship. According to Myers (1988). everything is interconnected in such a way that THE NOTION OF VITALITY OR LIFE FORCE elements of the whole are contained Beings and objects in the hierarchy are endowed with a life force. God is not apart from the rest of the world. A holistic worldview God is at the apex of the hierarchy. an account of the account of the world in which everything is interconnected in such a way that elements of the world in which whole are contained in each part (see discussion of cosmic unity below). The idea of that is the essence life force as ‘spirit’ does not imply ghost-like. in descending order. Hook. the source of all life. or creative force. birth. life force has been a source of great controversy in African scholarship since Tempels (1959) propounded it. God. For example. given that both the living and the deceased participate in this vital 42 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) .printed on 8/20/2016 4:03 AM via UNISA AN: 706996 . Ideally. the highest source of life. the community and the rest of nature. Distinguishing life from life force A crucial distinction needs to be made between the principle of life force. Human beings are capable of influ- encing events in the world to a certain degree. material and This creativity descends hierarchically from God to izinyanya. of all phenomena.CP_Chap02 11/2/04 10:23 am Page 42 Critical Psychology Copyright © 2014. Critical Psychology Account: s7393698 . God ‘constitutes the spatio- temporal totality of existence’ (Teffo & Roux. Juta and Company. elders. Everything is endowed with ‘energy’. or applicable copyright law. life force refers to the energy or power that is the essence of all phenomena. Although at the apex. Together with the world. the fact that human beings participate in the Divine is captured by the Sotho saying. the cycles of nature and in human achievements. human immaterial. The family is effectively cut off from God. the principle of life (as in being a living organism). and being full of energy (vitality as in liveliness). it is expected that one will always use life force to maintain vital connections and interdependence between the family. and all that is created (Kasenene. while the Nguni call it isithunzi. beings. ‘motho ke Modimo’. inner powers of an occult nature. God does not rule the world from a distance. The principle of life force cannot be reduced to the quality of being alive. 1998. They ensure that through izinyanya one remains connected to God. spirit.. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher. but permeates everything in it.S.

Living harmoniously with the natural environment requires that it be harvested to the extent that it is necessary to support human needs. It is defined in terms of reciprocal obli. It is expected that one will live harmoniously and interdependently has life). Juta and Company. Mbiti.. All rights reserved. 1991). 1992). It is believed that not only does this make the of knowing: plant more effective. failure to do so could cause it to fail to regenerate. Derek. Recently. searching for vidual. and culture. 1994. the family or a sinister force might have brought about the undesired what is ‘right’ even consequence. 1998). initially appear to It is believed that a witch can manipulate life force to bring about an be wrong. They gations (Dzobo.S. the Sotho of They refer to the relationship between individuals and their milieu. cause is sought as to how indi. their milieu. Hook. making little or no distinctions between nature others. biological life. sense. on the other hand. 1992. For example. skeptical. This stems from the belief that the creative life force may be in what might manipulated for sinister purposes. Maffi. and impartial stance 2000). even if they appear Life forces are constantly in interaction with each other. in the event of a personal tragedy. as evidenced in the day-to-day relationships with others. (1986). It takes an adversarial. that is at stake. the principal feature of relationships with which is to think ecologically. without our awareness. it is assumed that human beings will live harmoniously with day-to-day animals and nature. Behind this concern is respect for the principle of life. Kabatesi. 1977). Critical Psychology Account: s7393698 . Witchcraft is an example (Ngubane. It is their lived An organic view of the universe experience. that a person uyaphila/o ea phela (he or she is at stake. except fair uses permitted under U. 43 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) . distanced. this reason Africans deny the possibility of events happening by accident. is common among indigenous societies (Howard. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher. It is their southern Africa say lived experience. individuals and according to their positions or roles (Kasenene. one’s knowledge. This means by Belenky et al that it will not be available to support human life in the future. union. When the Nguni and the Sotho of southern Africa say a person When the Nguni and uyaphila/o ea phela (he or she has life). For knowing. All individuals are expected to promote refer to the rela- tionship between vitality in the community by fulfilling their duties and responsibilities.CP_Chap02 11/2/04 10:23 am Page 43 Psychology: An African perspective Copyright © 2014. fully and religiously (Burford. This had to be done respectfully and religiously. as evidenced in the Traditionally. religious rituals accompa- nied the planting and harvesting of crops. This organic view of the universe. they are not referring to biological life. they are with others. For example. It also affirms the toward the object of interdependence between the natural and the human environment.printed on 8/20/2016 4:03 AM via UNISA AN: 706996 . & Rukangira. accommodate new ideas. Separate indigenous communities working with Western-trained scientists to find a knowing is charac- terised by a cure for HIV/Aids have voiced the view that plants should be collected respect. From an African point of view. It is possible for to make intuitive unknown forces to intervene in the order of events. Gemmill. argumentative The causes of things stance to new ideas. life is a never-ending spiral of not referring to human and communal relationships. terms popularised Harvesting the plant in a disrespectful manner will cause it to die. Bodeker. Respect for the principle of life is also illustrated by the practice by traditional healers to pray before harvesting Separate and connected ways plants for medical purposes. tries to or applicable copyright law. Connected The nature of this intervention is beyond our conscious understanding.

1998.CP_Chap02 11/2/04 10:23 am Page 44 Critical Psychology Copyright © 2014. and connection between God. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher. rather than separation and abstraction. although not to the same degree. This is another principle shared by a number of indigenous societies. animals. seeks to explain the quently. Juta and Company. Teleology: unfortunate event to someone. everything is Within this system. immediate) causes. The principle of life To understand the force requires coexistence with and strengthening of vital relationships. Indige- tually in motion. The tendency among Africans to prefer teleo- derived from the logically inclined explanations stems from the view that life force can be Greek words telos manipulated. questions are directed not only towards why events happen. THE PRINCIPLE OF COSMIC UNITY Knowing through participation Cosmic unity: Cosmic unity is closely related to the notion of vitality (Anyanwu. To know is to participate in the dynamic process involving interaction between parts and the whole. 134). 1992. Through life force all share in God’s creative energy universe has a or spirit. Maffi. this differs sharply from traditional Western ways of knowing. This means that units of analysis are not abstracted from their context. 1981. Verhoef & Michel. From a Western perspective. izinyanya. influence their perception of the world. plants. 1997). the knower stands apart from the object of his or her knowledge. Severance the final cause. Of most universe in terms of interest is why they happen to someone at a particular locality and at a certain final (rather than point in time. Analysis of discrete elements in isolation from their or applicable copyright law. idea that there is a Kasenene. is to be prized. except fair uses permitted under U. The creative power descends verti- purpose or design. being influenced by cause-effect manner (Howard. Cosmic unity means that there is a God. Critical Psychology Account: s7393698 . 1969. plants and inanimate objects inanimate objects. Derek. which is the Whether life force exists or not is irrelevant for our purposes. 1992. Teleological orientations assume that ‘reality hangs together (end) and logos because of aims.. In review. influencing and being influenced by something else. in the cause of things. becoming can be accounted for only by a holistic approach that relates indi- vidual elements to the total system.printed on 8/20/2016 4:03 AM via UNISA AN: 706996 . cally to izinyanya. 44 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) . and is undesirable. Rather. context cannot account for the flux of becoming (Myers. everything is perpe. Kinoti. 1988). 1998). The belief continues to phenomenon exists or was created. of vital relationships constitutes the opposite of the Good. (Mbiti. What is impor- purpose why the tant is that a number of people share this belief. Hook. for the most part. One does not know by standing and observing at a distance. Ruch & Anyanwu. izinyanya. All rights reserved. They tend to subscribe to a something else. Conse- (discourse). 1997). extending directly from It is based on the view that the God to all that is created. and is driven by aims’ (Teffo & Roux. one needs to understand community and universe (Kasenene. holistic view of the world. Verhoef & Michel. 1981). It is sometimes connection between referred to as a holistic conception of life.S. Again. What has evolved from this point of view is the idea that knowledge through participation. influencing and nous societies. Within this system. perpetually in motion. life force is the creative energy. animals. then. 1994. 1992. do not view the world in a mechanical. human beings. and all that is created.

May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher. The observer or scientist is integral to this process. He argues that mystical thought ‘provides a consistent or applicable copyright law. All rights reserved. matter and spirit. Capra maintains that his views apply equally to all mystically based belief systems. conceives the world. that one cannot look at individual units in isolation from their context. inseparable components. dichotomous. it is in fact dualistic in that it makes an absolute distinction between body and soul. which is diametrically opposed to the traditional philosophy of Europe.CP_Chap02 11/2/04 10:23 am Page 45 Psychology: An African perspective Copyright © 2014.S.printed on 8/20/2016 4:03 AM via UNISA AN: 706996 . as a funda- mentally mobile yet unique reality that seeks synthesis. (4) Senegalese poet and Africanist scholar. and relevant conception of the world in which scientific discoveries can be made in perfect harmony with spiritual and religious beliefs’ (11). Critical Psychology Account: s7393698 . characteristic of the African world- view. which are perpetually in motion. Senghor.. Similarly. objective. Unlike classical physics. This is particularly so if one is 45 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) . The latter is essentially static. The holistic conception of life means. to reiterate. It is founded on separation and opposition. Senghor draws contrasts between traditional European and African worldviews: [T]he African has always and everywhere presented a concept of the world. Dynamism between parts and whole The dynamism between parts and the whole. Juta and Company. Although writing about Eastern belief systems. Derek. is illustrated in the following quotation from Senghor (1966). Observer as part of the system Myers (1988) argues that a holistic conception of life is compatible with the new physics (quantum and relativity theories). Leopold S. beyond the diversity of its forms. Hook. on analysis and conflict. the new physics sees the world in terms of interacting. The African on the other hand. rather than detached. Capra (1988) has drawn parallels between the new physics and the mystic philosophical traditions of the East and other traditions. except fair uses permitted under U.

especially in communities that subscribe to a holistic worldview. that in association they can accomplish things which they are not able to accomplish otherwise’ Atomistic: (Menkiti. but all of whom get together nonetheless because they realise . influencing and being influenced by something else.CP_Chap02 11/2/04 10:23 am Page 46 Critical Psychology Copyright © 2014. This model is inadequate. Community does not mean a ‘mere collec- tion of individuals. For example. It is high time that the world open up to traditional African lenses of viewing the world.printed on 8/20/2016 4:03 AM via UNISA AN: 706996 . Derek. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher. The tendency among traditional societies to regard a number of people as members of one’s family. It does not refer to a collection of atomistic individuals consisting of many who gather together to pursue common goals. 1994). What we know about the world and ourselves is insepa- rable from our worldviews or ways of knowing (Belenky et al. 179). 46 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) . disinterested model of the natural sciences. except fair uses permitted under U. All rights reserved. social science research can no longer afford to follow the fragmented. in a manner that is or applicable copyright law. 1984... COMMUNAL LIFE AND PERSONHOOD ‘An organic relationship between component individuals’ Another important principle underlying traditional African thinking is that of communal life. This is informed by an understanding that the child will grow and develop leadership and/or other qualities that will enhance the life of the community as a whole. 1992). Coetzee (1998) disparate elements. It is important to discuss briefly understandings of the term ‘community’ in African scholarship. Howard. diverse or relationship between component individuals (Menkiti. Likewise. befitting of these terms (Verhoef & Michel. 1997). 1999). Because everything is perpetually in motion. The entire community is thus expected to play a vital role in raising children. defines it as ‘an ongoing association of men and women who have special commitment to one another and a developed (distinct) sense of their common life’ (276).S.. Critical Psychology Account: s7393698 . Extension of terms such as mother and father to others goes hand in hand with an obligation to act responsively. Hook. parental responsibilities may be assumed by anyone through the practice of collective rearing of children (Mkhise. each with his [sic] private set of preferences. Juta and Company. Community as characteristic way of life Community results from a shared understanding of a characteristic way of life. stems from this understanding of community (Nsamenang. irrespective of the actual genetic relationship. Community refers to an organic separate. A sense of community exists if people mutually recognise the obligation to be responsive to one another’s needs. Personhood in African thought is defined in relation to the community. 1986. we need to understanding psychological processes with refer- ence to the frameworks of the people concerned. 1984). in the same way that it has considered similar mystic philosophical traditions from the East. working in indigenous societies.

adjusting to the rhythm of life within the community’ (Ogbonnaya. The importance of the community in self-definition Because of the is summed up by Mbiti’s (1969) dictum ‘I am because we are. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher. therefore I am’ (214). 1994. 47 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) . 1984). or applicable copyright law. Critical Psychology Account: s7393698 . The ilimo and ukusisa practices are good examples. Juta and Company. Personhood relationally defined Because of the interdependence between individuals and the community. 1997). This occurs as individuals attend to their responsibilities to others and the natural environment. 77). The importance of the community in self-definition is summed up by Mbiti’s (1969) dictum ‘I am because we are. terms of physical Muthu u bebelwa munwe (‘a person is born for the other’). It is through participation in a community that a person finds meaning in life (Kasenene. and since we are. Derek. thus strengthening the community. A person does not exist alone. except fair uses permitted under U. sayings such as Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu (Nguni). All rights reserved. 1984. or Motho ke motho ka personhood cannot batho babang (Sotho). Ilimo is a practice by which neighbours join together to help till another’s fields.. he or she belongs to a community of similarly constituted selves. dependence between self and other. interdependence therefore I am’ (214). the Xhivenda equivalent. Rather.’ Similarly. 1994. Kinoti. and since we are. Belonging carries with it a dynamism or ‘dance of harmony [because] everyone who belongs is continuously moving. These roughly translate as: ‘One becomes a human be defined solely in being through other human beings.CP_Chap02 11/2/04 10:23 am Page 47 Psychology: An African perspective Copyright © 2014. Ukusisa refers to the act of loaning someone cattle so that he or she can plough the fields and milk the cows. Personhood in African thought is defined relationally. Verhoef & Michel. 1992. points at the inter.S. The rootedness of the self-in-community is reflected in between individuals and the community. Activities such as these maintain communal equilibrium. It is extended to other activities such as building a house. Hook. Menkiti. and psychological attributes.printed on 8/20/2016 4:03 AM via UNISA AN: 706996 . personhood cannot be defined solely in terms of physical and psychological attributes (Menkiti.

CRITICISMS OF THE ‘SELF-IN-COMMUNITY’ Ikuenobe (1998) raises some plausible criticisms of the African conception of the person. Initially. 1995). However. Ogbon- naya. The relationship between an individual and the community is thus a multi-direc- tional one. Hook. 1992).CP_Chap02 11/2/04 10:23 am Page 48 Critical Psychology Copyright © 2014. they are firmly rooted in the hand (the whole). Critical Psychology Account: s7393698 . tensions should be resolved in a way that restores interdependence.S. other non-living objects. 1984).. independent members of society. It constitutes a closely knit community of relatives.. The view of the self-in-community recognises the possibility of tensions between the person and the community. The ideal is that they will be resolved in a way that enhances both individual and community. The relationship between individuals and community is not always smooth. Tensions are likely to occur (Gyekye. This could be the case with creative individuals who invent novel ways of doing things. including both the living and the deceased (izinyanya) (Moyo. creates them (Myers. THE FAMILY COMMUNITY If the community in general is important. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher. He notes that it may be construed as an account in which individ- uals are under the totalitarian control of the community. Juta and Company. On the other hand. This is a vindication of the principle of interdependence between parts and the whole: individuals are part of a collective (community) that they create and which. family could be extended to plants. Through the totemic system. the notion of the person-in-community does not deny individuality (Myers. ceivable (Paris. unique. 1988). Ogbonnaya (1994) argues that ‘the community is preserved and enriched by the “highest riches” of the person . It should be noted that ‘family’ is not restricted to the Western notion of a nuclear family. in turn. 1988.. Individuals can transcend the perspective of the community in creative ways. and anything connected with human relationships 48 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) . then the family community is of utmost significance. However. these inventions may be viewed with suspicion. just as the person is continu- ally enriched by the experience of emergent selves in the persona-communal’ (78). It forms an essential element of an individual’s social reality and personal identity. the community (the hand) is incomplete without the fingers. Derek. the individual is acclaimed as a model to be emulated.printed on 8/20/2016 4:03 AM via UNISA AN: 706996 . apart from which personhood is almost incon- or applicable copyright law. except fair uses permitted under U. and perhaps even advance the community to a higher level of functioning than before. Dzobo (1992) refers to the symbol of the fingers and the hand to illustrate the interdependence between an individual and a community. once the invention has been shown to benefit the community as a whole. Deceased family members continue to partake in the day-to-day affairs of their families. It is expected. All rights reserved. Fingers represent free. that the achievements of outstanding individuals will transform the community to a higher level of functioning. 1994). Ideally. however. However.

Juta and Company. 1995). Ruch & Anyanwu. Paris. becomes a person as one ‘goes along’ in society. cohesive unit. The elder. Following Gyekye (1992). it must be earned (Menkiti. 1984. Menkiti (1984) refers to this as the ‘processual’ nature of being. The injunction to respect elders. These depend on position and status in the hierarchy. 1991). They are expected to bring their wisdom to bear in decision- making (Ikuenobe. Rather. elders play a critical role in resolving marital and other forms of conflict.CP_Chap02 11/2/04 10:23 am Page 49 Psychology: An African perspective Copyright © 2014. an animal (eg a particular snake) is Totem: animal. Members are bound together by a reciprocal understanding of family. Older members have the most complete memory of the family’s lineage. it is not sufficient to be a biological organism with physical and psychological attributes. It requires one to affirm ideals and standards 49 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) . atomistic individual. For example. among traditional peoples as the The family is hierarchically organised. Failure to act responsibly dimin- ishes the elder’s status. The family. culminating in some societies in the rites marking the passage from childhood to adulthood. He maintains that children are not fully human. Personhood as earned It could be argued that the ‘processual’ nature of personhood means that one or applicable copyright law. object that serves definition.’ and not an isolated. a ‘being-with-and-for-others. who do not look kindly upon family members who neglect their responsibilities (Moyo. and are considered to be much closer to izinyanya (Mbiti. To attain personhood. is the most important aspect of self. Critical Psychology Account: s7393698 . Menkiti (1984) takes this position. Children are first born into a family community.S.printed on 8/20/2016 4:03 AM via UNISA AN: 706996 . 1992). He or she is thus highly respected. Elders earn their status in the community by virtue of the richness of their knowledge and experiences. from the oldest member to the emblem of a clan or youngest child. It is an affirmation of the view that personhood is an ongoing process attained through interactions with others and one’s community. PERSONHOOD AS A PROCESS It has been mentioned that the concept of a person in African societies is that of a person-in-relation. adopted by the family or clan as its emblem. The animal is treated as a member plant. 1998. Irresponsible elders may in turn be censured by izinyanya. 1981). Indeed. however. common in tradi- tional societies. as defined above. In the totemic system. their roles and responsibilities. Derek. 1969). I would argue that the fact that personhood must be earned is not a denial of personhood to children.. usually the oldest member of the family. Hook. (Mbiti. or natural of the family. They then undergo rituals of incorporation. Personhood does not follow automatically simply because one is born of human seed. has the all- important responsibility to ensure that the family remains a thriving. except fair uses permitted under U. emanates from an understanding that a person of an elder’s status and position will act in a dignified and responsible manner. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher. To be disowned by family is to cease to exist.

CONCLUSION An African critical psychology Critical psychology situates psychological functioning in its societal and histor- ical context. Ubuntu is the concrete or practical realisation of this knowledge and others. Ubuntu is inferred from a person’s of the qualities of knowledge of his or her duties and responsibilities within a community of personhood is reflected in people’s other.CP_Chap02 11/2/04 10:23 am Page 50 Critical Psychology Copyright © 2014. just and respectful individual. In the following chapter. and botho in Sotho/Tswana. However. Juta and Company. an individual’s shortcomings reflect poorly on his or her family and the community. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher. cultural subordination of African points of view in South Africa. responsibility to raise children.S. These are sayings such as ga e se motho (Tswana) or a ku si muntu (Nguni). It is referred to as ubuntu that the possession in Nguni. A number of sayings in some African societies refer to people who have failed to meet standards expected of a fully human person. According to this framework. and regained.printed on 8/20/2016 4:03 AM via UNISA AN: 706996 . These are standards such as generosity. Further. except fair uses permitted under U. to know one’s duties is not relationship with enough. Attention to marginalised voices is particularly important. literally meaning ‘he or she is not a person’. especially those that have been marginalised for ideological and political reasons. It attends to different voices. All rights reserved. benevolence and respect (Gyekye. discussed above. Just as it is a collective relationships. interdependent human beings.. his or her family and his or her community. Possession of the qualities of personhood is reflected in of the knowledge people’s relationships with others and their milieu. This chapter has attempted to achieve some of the aims of an African critical psychology by highlighting the value of indigenous worldviews in psychological discourse. Because one can fall short of these standards at any stage in the life cycle. Derek. personhood could be regarded as a becoming. lost. It is an unpredictable. Critical Psychology Account: s7393698 . 1992). A framework for an African-based psychology The chapter has presented a philosophical framework that could serve as a basis of an African-based psychology. practical realisation theoretical type. thought to be constitutive of the life of a community. Ubuntu Ubuntu: concrete or It should be emphasised that standards of personhood are not of an abstract. Hook. given the long history of the or applicable copyright law. the idea of personhood as becoming is revisited and discussed with reference to the soci- ocultural approaches to the self. open- ended process during which personhood may be achieved. objects and 50 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) . This is consistent with the notion of person-in-community. Ubuntu is not a cognitive appraisal of it. because a person is always a being- characterised by with-and-for-others. failure to attain personhood points blame at the caring. depending on a person’s circumstances.

It is this dialogue between perspectives that is of psychological significance. except fair uses permitted under U. it will be shortsighted of African scholarship to remain insulated in one concep- tual framework. among others. Revisit one or two mainstream psychological theories you are most familiar with (eg Rogerian approaches) and critically discuss each theory’s assumptions about (a) the nature of the knowing subject (the self ) and (b) the relationship between the knower and the object of his or her knowledge. A dynamic interdependence exists between all elements within the system. A dynamic relationship of worldviews However. Sociocultural approaches enable us to account for an existence of African psychological perspectives alongside other orientations. Juta and Company. rather than isolated parts. As mentioned previously. Critical Psychology Account: s7393698 . May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher. These theoretical frameworks are discussed in the following chapter. Do they exist simultaneously with these worldviews? Does exposure to new ideas affect men and women. It is imperative to take into account the many factors that influence individual development. In the same way that Western psychology cannot afford to ignore African worldviews. 51 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) . depending on their life force. people are exposed to multiple perspectives. 1. the modern world is characterised by rapid changes.. Critical thinking tasks or applicable copyright law. to God at the apex. They also offer conceptual tools to critically engage with tensions and power dimensions involved in psychological devel- opment. in the same way? New theoretical frameworks are needed to account for psychological processes resulting from the interpenetration of various worldviews. Cross-pollina- tion of ideas between cultures occurs more rapidly than in the past. Implications of this framework for counselling and health-care provision were briefly illustrated. these perspectives are capable of entering into a dynamic relation- ship with each other. Similarly.printed on 8/20/2016 4:03 AM via UNISA AN: 706996 . Hook. Traditional Western psychology has been criticised because of its under- lying assumptions. Once incorporated into people’s ways of thinking. The task of acknowledging multiple influences in psychological develop- ment is made possible by the sociocultural approaches advocated by Vygotsky (1978) and Bakhtin (1981. This process may result in the emergence of new perspectives out of the old. organisms in the universe are organised hierarchically. 1990).S. the young and the old. This dynamism means that reality can be understood by studying the system as a whole. from inanimate objects at the bottom. These elements are capable of influencing and being influenced by others.CP_Chap02 11/2/04 10:23 am Page 51 Psychology: An African perspective Copyright © 2014. The dialogue should address questions such as how African worldviews interface with new ideas such as Christianity and individ- ualism. All rights reserved. Derek. personhood cannot be conceived independently of the relationship between the individual and the community.

L. values and beliefs that could contribute to an indigenous African psychology. L. 4. To help you get started.2 In what ways does this metaphysical system differ from traditional Western approaches to psychology? Discuss with reference to healthcare or any relevant aspect of psychology. Mention and briefly discuss local/indigenous practices. your discussion answers questions such as: How do traditional African communities raise children? What is the nature of the self that is encouraged by raising children this way?) Working with your colleague again. London: Routledge. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher. Re-examining psychology: Critical perspectives and African insights. generate three additional African practices. values. Juta and Company.printed on 8/20/2016 4:03 AM via UNISA AN: 706996 . T.CP_Chap02 11/2/04 10:23 am Page 52 Critical Psychology Copyright © 2014. 2. (For example. except fair uses permitted under U. (1988). IA: Kendall/Hunt Publishing. Myers. Hook. Discuss the psychological significance of the three practices mentioned above with a colleague who is familiar with African prac- tices and value systems.S. or applicable copyright law. three examples are given: communal child-rearing practices. illustrating with examples. Derek. Dubuque.1 Critically discuss the main components of the traditional African meta- physical system presented in this chapter. Understanding an Afrocentric worldview: Introduction to an optimal psychology. Distinguish between indigenous psychologies and indigenisation. All rights reserved. 52 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) .. 4. and critically discuss their psychological significance. Recommended readings Holdstock.J. 3. Critical Psychology Account: s7393698 . conceptions of illness and ways of handling grief. (2000). or beliefs.

Critical Psychology Account: s7393698 . In this dialogue a person participates wholly and throughout his [sic] whole life: with his eyes.. into the world symposium.CP_Chap03 11/2/04 10:22 am Page 53 Chapter 3 Copyright © 2014. spirit. you should be able to: Describe the relationship between higher mental functions and social life Critically discuss and apply Vygotsky’s account of human development to the South African context Compare and contrast Vygotskian and Bakhtinian approaches to psychological mediation Critically discuss the notion of a dialogical self or applicable copyright law. Sociocultural approaches to psychology: Dialogism and African conceptions of the self Nhlanhla Mkhize ‘The single adequate form for verbally expressing authentic human life is open-ended dialogue.’ (Bakhtin. Derek.printed on 8/20/2016 4:03 AM via UNISA AN: 706996 . May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher. hands. and so forth. He invests his entire self in discourse.S. To live means to participate in dialogue: to ask questions. except fair uses permitted under U. Hook. to agree. All rights reserved. to heed. 1984/1993) LEARNING OUTCOMES By the end of this chapter. 53 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) . Juta and Company. lips. soul. Life by its very nature is dialogic. Compare and contrast dialogical and traditional African approaches to selfhood. with his whole body and deeds. and this discourse enters into the dialogic fabric of human life. to respond.

cultural and historical forms of 54 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) . are no longer tenable. Rather. The two authors have a lot in common and. Sociocultural approaches to psychology. In this chapter. particularly his notion of dialogism. and when we nous and traditional Western psychologies.CP_Chap03 11/2/04 10:22 am Page 54 Critical Psychology Copyright © 2014. Juta and Company. historical and pre-given and cultural contexts. The chapter concludes with the view the social to the internal world of the that dialogism provides a framework for reconciling the individual-society individual. the process by which higher mental functions VYGOTSKY AND THE SOCIAL ORIGINS OF MENTAL FUNCTIONING are formed. provide fertile ground to social and inter study the emergence of psychological processes from a myriad of social and personal interac- cultural influences. All rights reserved. tools to explore critically the thesis that psychological processes such as self- gent. and interface between. namely the dialogical self. are presented. from understanding emerge from the social basis of life. vidual development) originates from social. Hook. as exemplified meaning. It is characterised by a high degree of Mediation and internalisation multiplicity. Derek. Bakhtin’s of their intrapsycho- logical world. Bakhtin’s work Internalisation: could be seen as a logical extension of Vygotsky’s ideas. indige- others. fixed Critical psychology locates psychological functioning in its social. there is no singular. is geographic transfer discussed. It notion of existence as dialogue is then introduced. The chapter thus processes originally begins with a brief discussion of Vygotsky’s view that higher mental functions outside of people’s such as thinking originate from social activity. This was against the then dominant social science view that psychological Ontogenesis: functions can be studied in isolation from their context (Wertsch. provide the necessary meaning is emer. Rather.printed on 8/20/2016 4:03 AM via UNISA AN: 706996 . I propose that Bakhtin’s (1981) which results from literary writings. mediation and internalisation. Dialogism and the INTRODUCTION dialogical self: The social basis of psychological processes for dialogism. It arises dialogically. it is important to review Vygotsky’s account of lity and change. Instead. The view of selfhood does not describe a emanating from this conceptualisation of life. 1985). dichotomous explanations social environment. dichotomy. tions. The general genetic law of cultural development or applicable copyright law. Comparisons are drawn between the notion of the dialogical self of activities from and traditional African views of selfhood.S. except fair uses permitted under U. These approaches also our encounter with enable us to theorise about the co-existence of. in terms indigenous or Western psychological the dialogical self. study of individual Wertsch & Stone. This view leads to of human development. Vygotsky argued that ontogenesis (indi- development. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher. namely the view that psychological development is influenced it represents either by individual or by societal factors (Wertsch. 1991. although the argument will not be pursued at length here. by the works of Vygotsky (1978) and Bakhtin (1981). Vygotsky (1978) located the origins of higher mental functions in social life. flexibi- Before introducing Bakhtin. 1995). Two concepts central to control become part Vygotsky and Bakhtin. Critical Psychology Account: s7393698 .. concepts. human development briefly. so as to introduce concepts that are central to the understanding of Bakhtin’s work. In a world characterised by a high interact with the degree of movement and contact between cultures.

cultural. category. the formation of concepts. it vidual’s inner world (the intrapsychological plane). Vogotsky’s position is that processes that appear on the interpsycholog. This view is captured in what is known as the ‘general genetic law of cultural development’ (Vygotsky. 55 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) . and then within the child as an intrapsychological category. This is equally true with regard to voluntary attention. function in the gical functions such as thinking first represent relations between people (the child’s development social or interpsychological plane).. Derek. This does not mean that appears on the individual mental processes are a mere copy of outside social life. First it appears between or applicable copyright law. We may consider this position as a law in the full sense of the word. or on two planes. inde. it appears on the social plane. psychological functioning cannot be properly understood outside of the social. Self-instruction could take the form of a rehearsal. within the person (Wertsch. plane. then on the psycho- ical plane.CP_Chap03 11/2/04 10:22 am Page 55 Sociocultural approaches to psychology: Dialogism and African conceptions of the self Copyright © 2014. First it appears between people as an interpsychological category. or on two planes. the same activity is now being carried out at the intrapsychological plane. these relations become part of the indi. social plane. 1991). This law posits that: Any function in the child’s development appears twice. and then pendently of the adult. life. between people. gical category. First. logical memory. the child can later use the same instructions to instruct herself. and the development of volition. When this happens. Hook. Critical Psychology Account: s7393698 . and Rather. Juta and Company. can also be carried out on the intrapsychological logical plane.S. (163) For both Vygotsky and critical psycho- logy more generally. All rights reserved. except fair uses permitted under U. and then on the psychological plane. historical and economic contexts in which it occurs. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher. which within the child as an intrapsycholo- could be done verbally or silently (see egocentric speech). but it goes without saying that internalisation transforms the process itself and changes its structure and functions. Later. Social relations or relations among people genetically underlie all higher functions and their interrelationships.printed on 8/20/2016 4:03 AM via UNISA AN: 706996 . For example. appears twice. First. higher psycholo. when an adult gives a people as an child instructions to solve an arithmetic puzzle (an activity between the child and interpsychological an adult). 1981). any According to the ‘general genetic law of cultural development’. From interpsychological to intrapsychological For Vygotsky. however.

people do.S. Vygotsky was of the view tutes a form of life that human agency cannot be understood by analysing individuals or media- to handle grief. All rights reserved. or ways of relating to each Mediation other and respond- ing to life experien. on the other hand. the things processes are mediated. Mediation is a process by which individuals or groups employ cultural ukubona. Eventually the language used by others is incorporated into children’s 56 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) . 1990. He noted that ‘egocentric speech’ repeats earlier social rela- or applicable copyright law. Derek. It has been mentioned that higher mental functions were once relations between ces that are tied to people. tional means in isolation. 1985). the term refers which collectively constitute the cultural tools through which psychological to social relations or practices. It needs to address Forms of life: itself to forms of life valued in various cultural contexts. tually internalised to direct our own behaviour (Shotter. traditional Western approaches seek to isolate social and cultural factors so as to uncover what are thought to be the underlying bases of human behaviour (Shweder. tives and community 1995). argued that children use ‘egocentric speech’ as a tool to solve problems. children require external assistance to solve problems. the tradi- tion by which rela. Piaget (1924/1969) viewed children’s ‘self-talk’ as an indication of immaturity or lack of social interest. stories and proverbs to carry out their actions (Wertsch. Gradually they begin to guide themselves through problem- solving while verbalising instructions previously given by adults or competent peers. which he termed ‘egocentric speech’. tools such as language. historical and cultural. acting with mediational means’ (Wertsch. ‘Self-talk’ We shall further illustrate mediation by contrasting Piaget and Vygotsky’s understanding of the role of ‘self-talk’ in child development. Higher mental functions are mediated by cultural tools. Juta and Company. Hence. Rather. Wertsch & Stone. original emphasis). tions between children and adults. Vygotsky (1966). 1989. For example.printed on 8/20/2016 4:03 AM via UNISA AN: 706996 ..CP_Chap03 11/2/04 10:22 am Page 56 Critical Psychology Copyright © 2014. which assume that the individual is the primary unit of analysis. It marks the beginning of a process by which children begin to converse with themselves in the same way that they had earlier conversed with others. form. it involves ‘humans . cultural narratives and proverbs. 1991).. which are even- particular contexts. children in traditional African societies are socialised to the members visit a moral values thought to be important to the community through storytelling. 69. Critical Psychology Account: s7393698 . For example. Initially. He expected this tendency. This view differs from tradi- tional Western approaches to psychology. family after the The stories are imbued with moral and other lessons that children must inter- death of one of its members.. to disappear as children matured cognitively and socially. These forms of life are in its most simplistic reflected in activities such as plays. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher. Hook. consti. Cultural tools The ‘general genetic law of cultural development’ implies that for psychology to be truly social. it needs to take into consideration social relations and practices: the things people do and say. songs. nalise to become competent members of their societies. except fair uses permitted under U.

It is determined by what the child is capable of doing with the assistance of adults or other competent children. it represents the very process by which higher mental functions are dialogues with the formed.’ and the ‘potential’ or ‘zone of proximal development’ (ZPD) (Vygotsky. Hook.. and direct our even when we are behaviour (Shotter. 86). 39–40). the ‘disappearance’ of ‘egocentric’ speech means that the social relations it represented have become part of the inner world of the child. practiced with respect to him’ (Vygotsky. In other transfer of activities from the social to the internal world of the individual. Juta and Company. example. except fair uses permitted under U. become part of their intrapsychological world. ‘Actual development’ refers to mental functions that are already fully matured. Thus.printed on 8/20/2016 4:03 AM via UNISA AN: 706996 . 1989. Inner dialogue: ment takes place in the ZPD as adults and competent peers interact with we are continually children to support them to master the values and skills that are essential in engaged in dialog- ues with others. who also main. psychological world (ie internalised). It could be regarded as the end product of development (Vygotsky. a mother 1998). 1985). Rather. to write (eg ‘You hold the pen like this. Derek. 1966. sion of adults. From a Vygotskian perspective. 1978. Vygotsky drew a distinction between two levels of development. words. These Internalisation means that processes originally outside of people’s control dialogues can be repeated internally. Critical Psychology Account: s7393698 . parts of the self. Formally. these processes can be recalled and used to construe.S. Internalisation does not describe a geographic alone. The ZPD. Shotter (1993a.’).CP_Chap03 11/2/04 10:22 am Page 57 Sociocultural approaches to psychology: Dialogism and African conceptions of the self Copyright © 2014. For order to become competent and mature members of their society (Tappan. Develop. 1993b) further contends that internalisation enables various. Wertsch & Stone. inform. it is defined as ‘the distance between the actual developmental level as determined by independent problem solving and the level of potential as determined through problem solving under adult guidance or in collaboration with more capable peers’ (Vygotsky. 1989). It becomes a tool that directs their behav- iour (Shotter. By resorting to ‘iinner dialogue’. This view has found support from Rogoff (1990. Internalisation may be 57 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) . resorts to dialogue tained that children advance their understanding through ‘apprenticeship’ to teach her child with others in culturally organised activities. on the other hand. social rela- tions between children and their social environment provide insight into psychological functions such as thinking. 1978). All rights reserved. internalised children to learn to do on their own what they initially did under the supervi. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher. 1978). refers to maturing functions. and then draw Internalisation a circle. ‘the child learns to practice with representing important Others in respect to himself [sic] the same forms of behavior that others formerly our lives. within ourselves. The zone of proximal development A critical question is how do activities happening between people get transferred into the intrapsychological realm? To answer this question it is necessary to revisit Vygotsky’s account of learning and development in children. 1995). Through internalisation. namely the ‘actual devel- opmental level. It is indicated by children’s ability to solve problems independ- ently. we can engage in inner or applicable copyright law.

Through construed as a transformation in our responsibility for things (Shotter. practice with respect to himself Internalisation as ethical-moral process [sic] the same forms of behavior that Internalisation is an indispensable part of becoming a person (the develop- others formerly ment of self-understanding). Critical Psychology Account: s7393698 . talk. Self-understanding emerges against the practiced with background social practices provided by the culture at large. This does not mean.CP_Chap03 11/2/04 10:22 am Page 58 Critical Psychology Copyright © 2014. It is a process by which individuals assume responsibility for activities child learns to that were initially under others’ control. This view finds support in MacIntyre (1984). that we need to accept uncritically the limitations of forms of self that are prevalent in our communi- ties (McIntyre. discussed below. Positioning However. Shotter’s (1993b) reinterpretation of internalisation paves a way for the emer- gence of personhood from the collective forms of life. ‘the 1993b). Derek. Juta and Company. provides the necessary theoretical tools for such a critique.. Bakhtin’s dialogical account of human functioning. historical and institutional settings and various forms of mediated action (Wertsch. however. Vygotsky was more concerned with what happens at the boundary or zone between the individual and his or her social and cultural context. In learning how to be a responsible member of a certain social group. 1984). act. These ways of talking and sense-making need to be critically debated in order to determine their liberating and constraining effects (Prilleltensky. except fair uses permitted under U. argues that internalisation involves an ethical-moral transformation of the self: 39–40). They have always been there.printed on 8/20/2016 4:03 AM via UNISA AN: 706996 . 1993a. internalisation. 1997). original emphasis). The ethical-moral nature of this process lies in the fact that these ways of being are not ours. serving other people’s purposes (eg the internalisation of dominant gender relationships). one must learn to do certain things in the right kind of way: how to perceive. or applicable copyright law. Vygotsky’s experimental work was limited to small group interactions. 58 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) . (73. such as parent–child dyads.S. He did not spell out the relationship between cultural. All rights reserved. think. Beyond Vygotsky Vygotskian psychology provides fertile ground for studying the sociocultural origins of psychological processes. 1966. Neither did he take into account influences of positioning in the process of individual development. Rather than focusing on processes occur- ring within the individual. Internalisation is an ethical-moral process because it involves acquiring ways of understanding oneself as a human being in relation to others. Hook. 1991). perhaps due to his rather short career. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher. and to experience one’s surroundings in ways that make sense to the others around one in ways considered legitimate. Shotter (1993b) respect to him’ (Vygotsky. who argues that ‘the self has to find its moral identity in and through its membership in communities’ (143).

It is constructed actively and dialogically. Vygotskian psychology cannot account for the power resulting from one’s positioning within a social field. In this respect. We are all socially positioned in complex and multiple ways. race. Logical relationships constitute a closed system. which is an interchange of ideas between two equally responsive subjects. People are positioned in various interpersonal or ways in society. Logical relationships Relationships characterised by dialogism are better understood in comparison with logical relationships (Hermans & Kempen. For Bakhtin. from within the person.printed on 8/20/2016 4:03 AM via UNISA AN: 706996 . except fair uses permitted under U. a person who is positioned as influence knowledgeable in a particular field (eg law) will be accorded more say should intrapersonal. 1999. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher. It also emanates from the person’s encounter with or applicable copyright law. Positioning: tured in various ways. nor does it arise internally.. his or her social world. meaning is not pre-given. 1994). Hook. issues pertaining to that field be discussed. For intergroup actions. 1993). They do not allow for further commentary beyond 59 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) . struc. and age.CP_Chap03 11/2/04 10:22 am Page 59 Sociocultural approaches to psychology: Dialogism and African conceptions of the self Copyright © 2014. Derek. Juta and Company. duties and obligations to an individual as are sustained by the cluster’ personal attributes such as gender (Harré & Langenhove. All rights reserved. Critical Psychology Account: s7393698 . For example.S. 1). 1995). example. depending on gender. refers to the intergroup and even intrapersonal action through some assignment of such process by which rights. BAKHTIN’S DIALOGISM The starting point in understanding Bakhtin’s ideas is the notion of dialogue. who was concerned with influences of broader social and cultural factors on individual development. Positioning refers to ‘a complex cluster of generic personal attributes. it can benefit from the ideas of Bakhtin (1981). How we are positioned plays a vital role in the importance and status we are given. in our encounter with the other (Bandlamudi. An example of this is the status and respect generally accorded elders in traditional African cultures. traditional African communities accord more status and respect to elders (Paris. which impinges on the possibilities of interpersonal. among other things.

1996. the creation of literary texts (eg writing a novel) as a model for the study of human life (Kozulin. to be discov- ered independently of our experiences/actions. Bakhtin drew parallels between the process of writing (production of literary texts) and living. Dialogism extends beyond interindividual processes to include how the person engages with her or his social and cultural world. Juta and Company. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher. in particular. Hermans & Kempen. which is speech as spoken by concrete individ- uals. 1985).CP_Chap03 11/2/04 10:22 am Page 60 Critical Psychology Copyright © 2014. Vasil’eva. and hence come to know it and our place in it through activities such as thinking. This tradition regarded the creative process and. Similarly. the two statements are identical. Life as authoring The idea of life as authorship is premised on the understanding that ‘the world is not given but conceived’ (Clarke & Holquist. Derek. 1984. He proposed an account of individual development (becoming) based on the concept of ‘life as authoring’ and existence as dialogue (Holquist. what is permissible in terms of the rules by which the statements are related. It is for this reason that Bakhtin (1981) argued that human life parallels the process of literary author- ship. with whom one can agree or disagree. and ourselves through an active process of engagement. on the other hand. doing and communicating (Kozulin. Valsiner & Holland. This means that we cannot have direct access to the world because it is not ‘out there’. Critical Psychology Account: s7393698 . 1991). namely ‘life is good’ and ‘life is good’ (see also Hermans. either in agreement or disagreement with each other. except fair uses permitted under U. 1991). the statements can be understood independently of who utters them. and addressed to immediate as well as distant audiences (Skinner. Clarke and Holquist (1984) expressed the relationship between authorship and living as follows: 60 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) . 1991). Living language and the study of human life It should be noted that Bakhtin was a literary analyst: he analysed relation- ships between characters and the author in written works. Bakhtin (1984/1993) showed this by drawing a comparison between two iden- tical statements. 2001). Dialogical relationships Dialogical relationships. The meaning of the state- ments can be fully grasped only in the context of the relationship between speakers. From the point of view of Aris- totelian logic. 59). Hook. We engage with the world.printed on 8/20/2016 4:03 AM via UNISA AN: 706996 . We make sense of the world or applicable copyright law. 1990. Logically. presuppose (and recognise) the other.S. 1993. he was interested in living language. Kozulin. However. He took the Russian cultural tradition as his point of departure.. the statements ‘life is good’ and ‘life is not good’ only express a relationship of negation. All rights reserved. A dialogical relationship between the above pairs of statements exists if they are uttered by two embodied beings.

Their actions were driven by a desire to establish a democratic society philosophy of in which people live together in harmony and as equals. We live in a world that is horizon. we can ask ourselves: What was the an active process of engagement. As horizons of understanding (Gadamer. The exemplary lives of former South and our place in it. whereas Mandela was to spend 27 years of his life in prison. the plot and points of view. except fair uses permitted under U. To be successful. our actions must take into account the anything. Then there is the question of the point(s) of view. The novelist has to create characters. It involves building ideas into a text. 61 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) .CP_Chap03 11/2/04 10:22 am Page 61 Sociocultural approaches to psychology: Dialogism and African conceptions of the self Copyright © 2014. we inevitably express (author) our points of view in our come to know it responses (actions) to challenges in life. so do human it. against already pre-configured in a particular way. which is the building of a self (64). Rather. ties. through their works. Hook. 1991. is an active process. our theories and social lished within a given sphere of communication (Kozulin. Juta and Company. Gadamer (1975). and thus the architectonic activity of authorship. which is the building of a text. We do not reinvent the world anew which we see or applicable copyright law. with equal opportuni. Life as event presumes selves that are performers. These horizons constitute the background against which we act. which must be taken into account during the the world and writing process. world. Critical Psychology Account: s7393698 . Further.printed on 8/21/2016 12:38 PM via UNISA AN: 706996 . what has already been estab. was the point of view behind their actions. understanding. there is always a background. This. and hence Similarly. All rights reserved. Literary authorship and life Let us consider the analogy between literary authorship and living in detail. every time we do something. both men doing. horizons of ence to colonialism and its defeat in other parts of Africa. illustrate this. among other viewpoints. in the same way that is perspectival. Rolihlahla Nelson Mandela. Writing a novel. activist. most of (Kozulin. or actions take place within the sphere of culture. We author trying to communicate to us in this novel? Novelists express their engage with the opinions. who maintained that understanding does not occur in Horizons of understanding isolation. backgrounds 1993a). Derek. 1975). May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher. authors do not invent everything anew when they write: their works are situated within the context of established literary genres (writing styles We make sense of such as drama and prose). and sacrificed their careers/lives to engage in the struggle for liberation. it Literary authorship and living are also similar because. Thus. and Black Consciousness such as thinking. In response to apartheid. For constitute our example. the relation between me and the other must be shaped into a coherent performance. which is the ourselves through reason the work of art is created. Bantu Steve Biko. Mandela and Biko’s actions above could be understood with refer. Biko died communication in jail. which were spent doing hard labour (digging lime in the quarries). psychologists. That novelists situate their work within established literary genres. 1991). Shotter. thereby authoring their point of view. paral- lels the activity of human existence. Thus.S.. through activities African president. The question is: What were these men (and many other men and women) trying to achieve by their actions? What were their points of view? The answer to this Horizon of question is perhaps found in Mandela’s closing remark during the Rivonia trial understanding: term based on the in 1964. for example.

Utterances that is. as is an other or to make room for the other’s active responsive understanding (71). so to a response from speak. Life experiences cannot be studied out of context. Wertsch. Derek. Critical Psychology Account: s7393698 . With the analogy of ‘life as authorship’ Bakhtin laid a foundation for a meaningful understanding of psychological functioning through the study of people’s life experiences.CP_Chap03 11/2/04 10:22 am Page 62 Critical Psychology Copyright © 2014.. Saussurian linguists studied grammatical units such as sentences. which was dominated by Saussurian linguists.. and phrases. Sentences are abstract because they do not belong to anyone and are not addressed to anyone. although he studied literary texts. These units were studied independently of the context of their users. and its end is followed by the responsive utterances of command is an others. determined by a change of speaking subjects. 1986. All rights reserved. 1993a). then what should the units of analysis be in psychological studies? It should be noted that. words and phonemes as a means to uncover underlying and stable patterns of language. Any utterance – from a short (single-word) always seek or elicit rejoinder in everyday dialogue to the large novel or scientific treatise – has. and their life conditions in general. Bakhtin (1986) found the study of utterances attractive because they indicate the gaps 62 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) . an absolute beginning and an absolute end: its beginning is preceded by those to whom they are addressed. Bakhtin was concerned with language as a living process: the manner in which language expresses relationships between real embodied people. speech subjects’ (Bakhtin. the one to whom they are addressed. our lives unfold in a world populated with other people. A the utterances of others. communication Bakhtin (1986) defined the utterance as: characterised by a change of speaking a unit of speech communication . a change of speakers. utterances always belong to ‘individual speaking people. Utterances are real responsive-interactive units (Shotter. They are thus consistent with a model of human understanding based on people as performers. words. Vasil’eva. except fair uses permitted under U. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher.S. embodied people: they also elicit a response from or applicable copyright law. … The speaker ends his utterance in order to relinquish the floor to the utterance. Unlike sentences. any unit of 1990). Hook. given that by definition. 1985. For this reason Bakhtin positioned himself against the prevailing linguistics of his time. Juta and Company.printed on 8/21/2016 12:38 PM via UNISA AN: 706996 .. Utter- ances not only belong to real. 7). Bakhtin (1986) referred to this as the responsiveness and ‘addressivity’ of utterances. Bakhtin turned his attention to Utterance: the study of the whole utterance (Holquist. Bakhtin argued that such units are inappropriate because they cannot tell us anything about actual relationships between embodied beings. 1983. The utterance as the unit of analysis If life parallels the process of authorship. article appearing in a journal. The responsiveness and ‘addressivity’ of utterances Utterances presuppose someone with whom one can agree or disagree. subjects. however. phrases. To understand language as a living process.

claim to be alone in what we are doing. utterances are always addressed to someone. Derek. . 1997. Quite on the contrary.. Any under- standing is imbued with response and necessarily elicits it in one form or another: the listener becomes the speaker (Bakhtin. in an anticipated communication with others with activity of the whom I must finally come to some agreement (cited in Bernstein. 1991).CP_Chap03 11/2/04 10:22 am Page 63 Sociocultural approaches to psychology: Dialogism and African conceptions of the self Copyright © 2014. It could thus be argued that higher mental functions such as thinking do not constitute the activity of the solitary thinker. except fair uses permitted under U. prepares for its execution and so on. ‘Addressivity’ extends beyond actual participants in a dialogue to include real or imagined Others for whom the utterance is meant and from whom some responsive understanding is sought (Bakhtin. a dialogue such as thinking do between me and myself.. Instead. responsive attitude toward it. although the degree of this activity varies extremely. when we contemplate doing something that our parents do not approve of. but finds itself always and primarily. there is always an actual or imaginary audience of listeners (Hermans. is inherently responsive. 1983. Participants can state their point(s) of view in response to what has been said by the other. or boundaries in the flow of speech between speaking subjects (Shotter. Every utterance has an addressee or a ‘second party’ whose responsive understanding is being sought. disagreeing and questioning (Sampson. by definition. 1986). Arendt expressed a similar view: argued that higher mental functions the thinking process . a process Bakhtin termed the ‘addressivity’ of utterances (Bakhtin. take into account the effect it will have on them (Bakhtin. applies it. alone in making up my mind. The very composition and style of the utterance will depend on the audience for whom it is meant and must. 68). the internal world of the person is It could thus be ‘populated’ with others. Critical Psychology Account: s7393698 . Wertsch. Instead.. of necessity.. 1991). May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher. 1986. Wertsch. 1993. even if I am quite not constitute the or applicable copyright law. Our actions must 63 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) . This is because.S. dialogical. For example. they engage in activities such as negotiation.. 218). even in our thoughts. Any understanding of live speech. which are abstracted from their conditions of real use.. Hook. is not. All rights reserved. Wertsch. The role of the addressee Utterances are. 1986. solitary thinker. even if they are not there.. like the thought of pure reasoning. 1990). of speech he [sic] simultaneously takes an active. augments it. the other speaker can assume a responsive attitude toward what has been said. a live utterance. agreeing. He [sic] either agrees or disagrees with it . When the listener perceives and understands the meaning . 1986). Whenever an utterance is made. 1993a. Shotter. Once the utterance of one speaker has been finalised.printed on 8/21/2016 12:38 PM via UNISA AN: 706996 . Juta and Company. the internal world of Oriented towards others the person is The fact that ‘addressivity’ includes imagined others highlights that we cannot ‘populated’ with others... 1995). unlike sentences. we may engage in an internal dialogue with them. The notion of ‘addressivity’ follows from the fact that people are not passive in their conversations with others.

real or imagined. such as a system of ideas or beliefs. Critical Psychology Account: s7393698 . May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher. on the other hand. Ratele (this work)). always be oriented toward others. such as the development of moral and ethical reasoning (eg Kohlberg. 1984).printed on 8/21/2016 12:38 PM via UNISA AN: 706996 . Here the speaker attempts to elicit a response of humour. Bakhtin’s dialogism opens up the possibility of studying the role played by others. Stevens. Utterances are always addressed to someone else. then the speaker has been successful. history and time (Benhabib. 1981. All rights reserved. Hook. psychology in South Africa has not only lived in tandem with racism: it blossomed during apartheid because it could be used to justify the policy of the Nationalist govern- ment (see Box 1. Juta and Company. 64 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) .. posit that people reason in isolation from others and the social context (Sampson. are envisaged to be a matter of individual legislation. The notion of ‘addressivity’ alerts us to the importance of others’ responses to what we have to say. except fair uses permitted under U. Derek. This process is envisaged to occur independently of others. 1993). in the cognitivist paradigm. in order to be meaningful. an appeal to God. if the addressee laughs. extended to a ‘third party’ or a ‘superaddressee’. For example. higher psychological functions. in the development of higher mental functions. 1996). or scientific knowledge. with reference to internally held principles (Day & Tappan. 1992). The superaddressee Bakhtin (1986) also maintained that the ‘addressivity’ of utterances might be or applicable copyright law. This is an indefinite audience. For example. An example of this might be the telling of a joke.S. Duncan. Traditional psychological theories of human development. and anticipate their responses. & Bowman (this work). to which we appeal to justify our claims or actions.CP_Chap03 11/2/04 10:22 am Page 64 Critical Psychology Copyright © 2014. and every utterance has an addressee whose responsive understanding is being sought.

. moody. 85). difficult to stimulate except contemporary psychology and the political through flattery. and the racial differences revealed psychological claims can be used to justify have been considerable (cited in Richards. the very fact that the political system and the professional disci- negroes were not interested as were the pline. by even the most inclusive of research projects in psychology. Utterances are already imbued with meaning. cited in Richards. the political Ferguson went on to conclude as follows: experiment approached the ideal of elimi- [I]t is very clear that by far the greater nating sampling statistics by involving the number of writers who have dealt with the total population. work and scientific spheres. system of apartheid are striking. can function as a superaddressee. an uncanny grumbling. oppression.. The parallels between to lose interest. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher. The negro has not shown the same capacity as the white when put to the Both Holdstock (2000) and Richards point us to test of psychological or educational experi. and are not self-sufficient.printed on 8/21/2016 12:38 PM via UNISA AN: 706996 . Derek. All rights reserved. Rather. irregular. except fair uses permitted under U. ‘racial differ- The flourishing of psychology in South Africa ences’ in IQ have been used to justify educational during the apartheid era is an equally telling and employment inequities.. who object to such a comparison. tive methods. Every utterance must be regarded 65 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) . .. This is particularly true of fit the homelands policy of the nationalist those investigators who have used quantita. That is. 1993a).S. Hook. The entire country became a problem of the relative mental ability of the laboratory. Holquist. 85). associated with the way they have been used histori- or applicable copyright law. such as the family. The chainlike nature of utterances It is also important to note that the meaning of utterances cannot be deci- phered in isolation. 1997. as follows: Utterances are not indifferent to another. the fact that psychology is not neutral. example of how a scientific discipline can Ferguson (1916. envious of there will certainly be those in psychology each other’s progress. ment. to white and the negro take the view that the find critical descriptions of psychology that negro is inferior. inaccurate. In South Africa. Juta and Company. independently of the history of ideas and social relations (Bakhtin. 1986. It is not surprising therefore.. like other forms of scientific knowl. were slow to warm up. Bakhtin (1986) expressed this feature. Shotter. quick stream psychology. In fact. 1997) come to serve the political ends of those in commented as follows on the performances of power. Although lating in attention. .. By ‘sphere of communication’ is meant historically particular contexts in which utterances have been used. The scale of the political experiment whites possibly points to a deficiency in the was just grander than could ever be envisaged colored group (cited in Richards... 1997. government like a glove (57–58). It also calls for a close examination of black and white children on intelligence tests: the values underlying the practice of main- The negroes . For example. which he termed the chainlike nature of utterances. Critical Psychology Account: s7393698 . Holdstock (2000) commented edge. In the United States. vacil.. humming. saying funny things commonality nevertheless exists between the while at work.CP_Chap03 11/2/04 10:22 am Page 65 Sociocultural approaches to psychology: Dialogism and African conceptions of the self Copyright © 2014. cally within a given sphere of communication.. as follows on the position of psychology during we can appeal to psychological knowledge to the apartheid era: justify our actions. given to mumbling. they are aware of and mutually reflect one another. 1983. BOX 1 The discipline of psychology as a superaddressee Psychology.

All rights reserved. Derek. worldviews and positions associ- ated with a given topic. supplements. 1983. 1991. Hook. 196). These issues have not been adequately addressed in South African psychological discourse. Traditional. class.CP_Chap03 11/2/04 10:22 am Page 66 Critical Psychology Copyright © 2014. primarily as a response to preceding utterances of the given sphere . Valsiner & Holland.S. The utterance enables us to situate speakers and knowledge in social and cultural contexts. The utterance draws to our attention that psychological and other forms of knowledge can only be articulated by embodied. historical and cultural circumstances? (Brown & or applicable copyright law. interven- tions that do not tackle the relationship between social identity and sexuality are likely to fail. living subjects. These are typical Bakhtinian (1981) questions such as: Who speaks/ writes/conducts research about whom? From which theoretical vantage posi- tions? Under what social. Thus.. suppose a community worker is teaching men about having one partner as a strategy to reduce the spread of HIV/Aids. having multiple partners is an important part of this man’s identity. and somehow takes them into account . Utterance and voice Utterances also differ from abstract linguistic units such as sentences because they are inherently tied to the notion of ‘vvoice’ (Holquist. utterances to communicate their The study of utterances would appear to be an appropriate subject-matter personal meanings for a critically oriented psychology. These subjects can be differentiated on a number of dimensions. Juta and Company. Holquist & 66 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) . and ethnicity. For example. making the utterance their own. 2001). It empowers us to pose critical questions about the knowledge production process. It is from positions already available to them in their social settings that speakers seize meaning.. from simplicity’ (195). Haraway (1991) contends that the traditional assumption of objectivity represents a ‘view from above.. affirms. mainstream psychology posits or points of view. knowledge always represents ‘views from somewhere’ (Haraway. On the value of the utterance as the psychological unit of analysis Given that utterances are linked to other utterances before them. Critical Psychology Account: s7393698 .. we would be able to discern how people Voice: engage with voices from their social and cultural worlds – which voices are speakers have a already imbued with others’ meanings and intentions – to develop new ways of voice when they use understanding themselves and their world (Skinner. Each utter- ance refutes. how are we to understand him? This response can be understood only with reference to the already established meanings of manhood (masculinity) in his social setting.. from nowhere. Thus. Most likely. such as race. gender. timeless and universal). Gilligan. that the knower and the object of his or her knowledge are beyond time and history (ie objective. we should study them with reference to the perspectives. except fair uses permitted under U. and relies upon others. 1991).printed on 8/21/2016 12:38 PM via UNISA AN: 706996 . Therefore each kind of utterance is filled with various kinds of responsive reactions to other utterances of the given sphere of communication (91). May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher. presupposes them to be known. If one of these men responds by saying: ‘I am a man!’. By studying utterances.

.printed on 8/21/2016 12:38 PM via UNISA AN: 706996 . May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher. Bakhtin’s dialogism extends beyond face-to-face interaction. should also study voicelessness among the oppressed.CP_Chap03 11/2/04 10:22 am Page 67 Sociocultural approaches to psychology: Dialogism and African conceptions of the self Copyright © 2014. It is the very condition for the [T]hey can serve existence of dialogue. 1985). 1990).. It should