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Critical Vision of Community Psychology

Community Social Psychology as Political Education and Awareness-Raising

Community Social Psychology as Political Education and Awareness-Raising by  María de Fátima Quintal de Freitas, Federal University of Paraná, Brazil

Community Social Psychology as Political Education and Awareness-Raising:
Resistences and Possibilities in Everyday Life. Suggestions for a Model
of Analysis.

María de Fátima Quintal de Freitas
Federal University of Paraná, Brazil


In developing community work we have faced challenges and dilemmas relating to the involvement and commitment of different actors in the networks of community and everyday co-existence. Although there has been an increase in sensitivity and motivation within civil society towards psychosocial practices in various community projects, this has not meant that participation – committed to social transformation – or awareness-raising – seen as a critical and political process – have been implemented and are guaranteed to be present in the above mentioned work. In the practice of community work, it can be seen that participation and awareness-raising constitute necessary psychosocial processes for the possibility of social transformation, starting from the networks of everyday life. It is the aim of this paper to deepen the analysis of the contents and meanings in the concepts of Participation, Awareness-Raising and Strategies for psychosocial survival, in order to support the realization of intervention-work that is committed to the concrete reality of the population and with political projects of transformation. There will be a search for the similarities, differences and intersections between these concepts according to the views of Paulo Freire on Awareness-Raising education, and Ignacio Martin-Baró, as well as pointing to suggestions in the area of Latin-American practices of Community Social Psychology. With a view to a socially committed practice, we shall analyse the following conceptual axes: a) connections between knowledge-ignorance, love-unlove, hope-hopelessness present in the process of participation; b) society-culture-everyday life; c) education and community practices as forms of liberation (emancipation); d) possibilities for the praxis of maintenance and transformation. Finally, a proposal is made for a model of analysis for everyday-life according to Community Social Psychology, bringing together ideas from both authors and analysing the strategies for survival and resistance in everyday life that cut across our community practices. It is also the aim here to reflect on community practices as educational projects of social transformation, as well as on projects of popular education as possibilities for awareness-raising and participation in concrete life.

Keywords: Strategies of Survival/Resistance in Everyday Life; Participation and Processes of Awareness-Raising; Exclusion, Liberation (Emancipation) and Social Transformation.

Psicología Social Comunitaria como Educación Política y Concientizadora: Resistencias y Proactividades en lo Cotidiano. Propuesta de un Modelo de Análisis.


En el desarrollo de los trabajos comunitarios en las últimas décadas, seguimos encontrando desafíos y dilemas, en particular con respecto al involucramiento y compromiso de los distintos actores en las redes de convivencia comunitaria y cotidiana. Hoy en distintos lugares se observan programas comunitarios que expresan de alguna manera una sensibilidad y motivación de la sociedad civil para realizar trabajos dirigidos a la mejoría de la calidad de vida de la población. Pero esto no significa que la participación comprometida con la transformación social y/o que la concientización, mirada como un proceso crítico y político en la vida cotidiana, se haya alcanzado en tales trabajos. Se puede decir que los contextos actuales de globalización y las relaciones generadoras de exclusión han representado desafíos para el desarrollo de las prácticas comunitarias, que se expresan en términos de garantizar un camino para la transformación social juntamente con el fortalecimiento de las redes mínimas de solidaridad. ¿Cómo implementar un proceso de formación epistemológica y política de los trabajadores comunitarios que esté, de hecho, dentro del paradigma de liberación de la psicología social comunitaria? ¿Cómo desarrollar formas de resistencia a la opresión y a la explotación humana, junto con formas de afirmación de una vida más digna y justa? Se pretende hacer una reflexión respecto a las certezas e incertidumbres que existen hoy con respecto a los avances y retrocesos de los trabajos comunitarios. Así como también en relación a la formación exigida y necesaria para una “sensibilidad histórico-social” y una generosidad cotidiana. Se analizarán los nuevos retos ontológicos planteados en términos de los contenidos políticos de solidaridad, lealtad, participación y concientización en la vida cotidiana de los agentes comunitarios externos e internos dentro de un proyecto de acción colectiva. Se completará la reflexión con una propuesta de análisis en la que la psicología social comunitaria tenga también un carácter de educación política y concientizadora, según los principios de la Educación Popular y Concientizadora de Paulo Freire.

Palabras clave: Practicas comunitarias transformadoras vs conservadoras; politización de lo cotidiano y educación concientizadora; formación político-metodológica en Psicología Social Comunitaria.

Community Social Psychology as Political Education and Awareness-Raising:  Resistances and Possibilities in Everyday Life - Suggestion for a Model of Analysis

When developing practices of community intervention that have a clear commitment  to the emancipation and liberation of sectors of the population and peoples that are oppressed and exploited, certain psychosocial dimensions have proven themselves to be of crucial importance (Escorel, 1999; Freitas, 2003; Lozada, 1999; Montero, 2000; Serrano-Garcia, 1992). This has been seen to be the case throughout the projects developed in the area of Community Social Psychology both in Brazil and Latin America in the last few decades. These dimensions relate to the dynamics inherent in community practices themselves, and appear in the interactions between the various participants in the projects, be they external (professionals) or internal agents (residents or participants in community groups) (Montero, 2000; Freitas, 1998, 2003).

If the work of Community Social Psychology has a clear commitment to the fact that populations, sectors and community groups ought to mobilise and organize themselves around their basic rights in order to build a fairer and more dignified life, it is important to analyse the meaning of some aspects present in people’s lives, and which can differentially affect their possibilities for action and community intervention (Barreiro, 1985; Martin-Baró, 1989; Freitas, 2000). Through such analysis, the understanding of what happens with people in their day-to-day lives, of the meaning they give to their own lives and the kind of relation they establish with their fellowmen, can become a genuine ‘turning point’ for understanding why community practices succeed, or not, in the proposed direction (Freitas, 1998, 2003, 2005; Montero, 2000; Martin-Baró, 1987). It is this that allows us to understand to what measure the processes of awareness-raising and participation become susceptible to the events of everyday life, differently impacting on the people involved and pointing to possibilities, also differential, of success and failure in community projects (Barreiro, 1985; Flores, 1999; Freitas, 2003; Martin-Baró, 1987; Serrano-García, 1991).

Hence, speaking of processes of awareness-raising and participation in the area of community work, leads us to think about the everyday strategies people use to affirm and confirm their selves, be it in actions and relationships, or in their beliefs regarding those relations and inbuilt practices. In other words, it leads us to try and answer the big challenge, always present for each of us in our various practices in the community, and which is expressed for the moment by two important questions:

  1. How to involve and commit people – professionals, residents, or participants in various community groups – in the community projects to be developed? However, even if it is possible to obtain this involvement, we come face to face with the other half of this challenge which is expressed in the second question:
  2. How, then, do we maintain people doing what they are doing and, what is more, keep them in the belief that it is worth continuing to do what they are doing? That it is fair and correct (level of ethics and justice) and that it ought to be done (level of responsibility)?

In reality it is these two key questions that directly lead us to think about what goes on at the level of practice and at the level of awareness. The first refers to ‘doing’ as such and to interventions in the community; the second is related to the psychosocial processes involved and the politicisation of awareness, as well as to the successes and failures of that same awareness, when the practice is implemented in community relations.

Although different sectors of civil society are effectively more sensitive to social problems, doing numerous voluntary work, and there is a certain, almost collective, ‘predisposition’ to help the poor and destitute, one cannot unfortunately also say that two relevant facts obtain:

  1. One cannot say that there is an increase in the participation of people committed to social transformation and facing up to the exploitative conditions in which they live; and
  2. Neither can one say that those community projects have created processes of awareness-raising that imply a break with the forms of naturalizing everyday life and submitting to that exploitation.

For this reason, the above questions become important since they allow us to analyse possible articulations that may occur between awareness and participation, so that we can understand the strategies used against (or, unfortunately, for) the means of alienation and domination of awareness.

With these worries in mind, a proposal for reflexion and analysis will now be advanced that covers three stages. In the first stage, some concepts will be recovered, assumptions and categories that are part of the proposals made by Popular and Emancipating Education, in the philosophy of Paulo Freire, as well as in the perspective of the Social Psychology of Liberation (Emancipation), through the assumptions of Ignacio Martin-Baró.

In a second stage, an analytical proposal will be put forward regarding the connections and influences of these dimensions – of participation and awareness-raising – in the carrying out of work in the community. And, in a third stage, the aim is to thereby identify aspects and dynamics of everyday life that strengthen community practices within a transforming and liberating view of Latin-American community social psychology.

I. First Stage: Some Concepts of Popular Education in Paulo Freire and the Social Psychology of Liberation (Emancipation) in Ignacio Martin-Baró

It is necessary here to quickly situate these two important researchers and social workers in the fields of Popular Education and Psychology. Maybe the best well known amongst them is Paulo Freire, the popular Brazilian educator who argued for the ‘re-discovery’ and ‘re-possessing’ of the world via the process of reading that world. He claimed that by reading the world one could recover it in its historical, political and socially transforming aspects (Freire, 1974, 1976, 1979). For Paulo Freire (1970, 1974, 1976), the processes of raising-awareness take place in the intercession of the process of ‘reading the world and making culture’, within which Men takes possession of his individual and social history.

Within the same perspective of socio-political commitment and existential involvement with the more disadvantaged and oppressed sectors of the population, we find the Jesuit Ignacio Martin-Baró, a social and communitarian psychologist. Sadly and stupidly, he was brutally murdered on November 16, 1989. The work of Ignacio Martin-Baró was always one of intervention from the concrete reality of the ‘simple’ people of his country, and registered a deep knowledge and empathy with the suffering of these people, hence positioning itself as a strong condemnation of human rights’ violations in El Salvador. His proposals for intervention were guided by basic principles related to an understanding of the events in people’s everyday life, through different group relations, forms of social inclusion and belonging in already existing groups and identities.

In Martin-Baró, as well as in Silvia Lane (2000), we find the proposal to understand how macro-social dimensions affect what he calls the ‘human psyche’ (Martin-Baró,1987, 1989), and how the different forms of power manifest themselves in human relations.
How did Paulo Freire and Ignacio Martin-Baró understood certain fundamental concepts for the reflections here suggested? Let us look at some of them.

I.1 On the Concepts of Society and Culture, Circles of Culture and Group Processes. 

Regarding the concept and meaning attributed to the term ‘Society’, Paulo Freire explains the different types of society and analyses them in terms of closed-society, transition-society, alienated-society, and open-society. These types of society refer to power structures more or less authoritarian and imposing that permit different degrees of civil action and participation. From there, he reflects on the types of awareness and education that would be found in each type of society, going from a more authoritarian education that generates submission, to a more critical education that values participation and different types of knowledge (Freire, 1976).

The analysis formulated by Ignacio Martin-Baró, on the other hand, focuses on the capitalist modes of production and reproduction of social life, emphasizing the effects this has on people’s psychic structure and their everyday relationships (Martín-Baró, 1985, 1997). He also emphasizes the different tensions and conflicts that exist in society and which translate themselves in various forms of power and submission, thus generating different degrees of conformism and fatalism about social and political events. Both, Freire and Martín-Baró,  understand society in its historical, dialectical aspects as well as in its ideological and economical conflict, thus revealing their roots in Marxist thought.

Following from this we find in Paulo Freire a particularly important concept, one which is even included in his proposal for Popular Education. It is the concept of Culture. When we compare its importance with Martin-Baro’s proposal, we can say that an equivalent concept here would be the understanding and analysis the author gives about Society, regarding the later from a perspective of conflict and historical determination, and revealing the contradictions and repercussions in people’s psychosocial environment. For Paulo Freire culture is all that results from human activity, from the  “creative and re-creating [effort] of man, from his work aimed at transformation and the establishment of dialectical relationships with other men.” (Freire, 1976: 41). In Martin-Baró we find the notion of understanding Men in relation and as an actor and author of his own history, which is in turn manifested in real life relationships and not just in the relations between teacher-student.

One can thus understand the emphasis given to the so-called Circles of Culture in the proposal of Paulo Freire, and which refers to the discussion and analysis of occurring situations, events and themes that are part of the student’s culture. These themes make up the contents of the process of literacy to be carried out, thus allowing the student to regain his self-confidence as author of his own history. Already in Martin-Baró we can find the important role of Group processes exhibiting a dialectical connection between Power, Doing (Activity), and Group Identity (relative to the feeling of belonging to the group). This analysis allows us to understand the different ways of relating in concrete everyday life, rendering explicit various modes of conformism/non-conformism, submission/domination, naturalization/de-naturalization in everyday life.

I.2 On the Concept of Education 

In both authors we find that it is through Education that it becomes possible to understand the repercussions of different conceptions of Men and Society that are promoted by the dominant ideology. In Paulo Freire, Education can be seen as a process of social change, in the full sense of the term. In Martín-Baró the emphasis falls on the identification of psychosocial phenomena that take place in daily relationships and which would, in turn, provide the basis for educational processes. And this would constitute the educational dimension of the Community Social Psychology (Martín-Baró, 1987; Freitas, 2005, 2007, 2008a, 2008b).

I.3 On the Concepts of Awareness, Alienation and (De)-Naturalization of Life.

Paulo Freire links the contents of awareness with types of education: banking (and alienating) education together with intransitive awareness versus awareness-raising (and liberating) education together with a critical awareness. He speaks of the transition from naïve awareness to critical awareness as a form of emancipation or liberation for Men, and that this would happen through literacy (Freire, 1974, 1976).
In Martin-Baró, on the other hand, the emphasis is on the Processes of Naturalization and Des-Indoctrination of life. (Martín-Baró, 1987, 1989). He argues that it is in people’s concrete everyday life that De-Indoctrination or breaking-away from the processes of naturalization and the form of power and oppression can take place. In doing this, new relationships of liberty and dignity can be strengthened through processes of participation and awareness-raising in everyday life. (Freitas, 2005, 2007)

A brief comparative synthesis of these concepts can be seen in Figure 1 (see PDF for figure).

II. Second Stage: Participation and Awareness-Raising in Everyday Life Starting From Community Social Psychology

This seems to be the moment  at which we can reflect on what makes people get involved and committed to community practices and pro-citizenship actions, independently of whether conditions permit this or not. The aim is to offer a plan of analysis that shows that there isn’t a direct relation between degrees of awareness and the kind of action to be carried out (independently of whether such action is more progressive or transforming). The proposal put forward here brings with it another topic of discussion that reveals the complexity of the process of awareness-raising, in particular when this is related to the processes of participation that can show paradoxes and contradictions in everyday actions.

II.1 Main Axes in the Proposals Made by Paulo Freire and Ignacio Martín-Baró.

What are the axes or fundamental pillars in the proposals made by Paulo Freire to the Community Social Psychology perspective? Paulo Freire’s proposal involves three important axes within the requirement of considering Men as a being in-relation and places himself at a certain point in each of three continuums: knowledge-ignorance; love-unlove; hope-hopelessness (Freire, 1976, 1979).

Figure 2:    Principal Axes according to Paulo Freire (see PDF for figure)

In the ‘knowledge-ignorance’ axis the emphasis is on the possibilities of knowing oneself, the world and life. In Freire’s view, “there is no absolute ignorance or knowledge; there is only relative knowledge and ignorance” (Freire, 1976:23). For us, in the practice of Community Social Psychology this means making explicit the type of authority and knowledge relation that obtains between the external agent and the community leaders or representatives when discussing and planning which actions are to be implemented.

In the ‘love-unlove’ axis, the focus is on the meaning and bonds in the relationships that are established during the educational process. Paulo Freire refers to love whilst emphasizing the fact that human beings are essentially unfinished, and also to the nature of the exchange between one and another in the process of discovery:
          “It is false that love does not expect something in return… One loves insofar as one seeks communication, integration starting from communication with others. […] Love implies fighting against selfishness. Those who cannot love ‘unfinished’ beings cannot educate. There is no compulsory education, just as there is no compulsory love. He who does not love does not understand others; does not respect them. There is no education through fear. One cannot fear education if one loves” (Freire 1976: 23-24).

According to Community Social Psychology this relation of ‘love-unlove’ would be translated into the emotional aspect of relationships, the meaning attributed to life and the beliefs that legitimize (or not) its doing (to love/not to love), its daily practice.

In the ‘hope-hopelessness’ axis, one can find the dimension of possibilities for the future, be those about individual or collective projects. For Community Social Psychology what is privileged here is also the future but with a focus on group and collective aspects; that is, one speaks here of political projects and their element of utopia.

II.2 A Model of Analysis in Community Social Psychology.

Could we find a proposed synthesis that integrates – at the level of community work directed at social transformation - the central axes of Paulo Freire’s Awareness-raising Education with the Processes of Awareness-raising in Martín-Baró’s Social Psychology of Liberation (Emancipation)?

A proposal is here put forward for analysing the possibilities of action that can be said to exist at the intersection between these three dichotomies in Paulo Freire. There is a discussion of the possibilities for intersection between the processes of awareness-raising and the actions in the everyday life. The aim is to understand the movements or possibilities that we can create for a practice of transformation in everyday life and work in the community, depending on which processes of awareness-raising and participation (specific to each sector or plane/level) the internal or external agents find themselves in when involved in community work or educational processes of emancipation.

II.2.1 Community Practices and Everyday actions guided by the Three Axes.
Possibilities for Action in Community 1:  Axis Love/Unlove versus Knowledge/Ignorance

What balance and opposition could there be between emotion and knowledge in the development of community practices aimed at transformation? It is against the backdrop of mutual influencing between these two dimensions – the emotional aspects (represented here by the love-unlove axis) and knowledge (represented by the knowledge-ignorance axis) – that there will then be a discussion of the possibilities of attitude and action. The graphic illustration appears in Figure 3. Each one of the Levels refer to a type of participation and psychosocial practice in everyday life.

Figure 3:  Panel of Possible Participations 1 (see PDF for figure):

In Level One (Love-Ignorance) we find an attitude of sympathy and closeness towards difficult and problematic situations, often guided by a certain affection that turns the situation or person into a target of sympathy or compassion. However, the little knowledge or disposition to face difficulties, or the lack of access to resources that allow one to understand the reasons for the problems that are experienced, doesn’t make it such that the sympathy or sensitivity towards those problems is sufficient for a meeting of alternatives and overcoming the precariousness of the situation. It is the case when people have the inclination and the motivation to do and help, however do not know ‘what to do’ or ‘how to do it’ since they lack the resources, tools and knowledge.

In Level Two (Unlove-Ignorance) we come across a paradoxical possibility. On the one side there is the ‘disaffected’, who shows either little sympathy or little sensitivity towards the situation, neither getting involved or offering to do something to improve conditions. Parallel to this, we see the same lack of knowledge regarding available resources and/or the situation, as also seen in Level One. If on the one hand this may seem terrible, in the sense that it exposes certain attitudes of indifference towards social realities; paradoxically, on the other hand it can also indicate a certain degree of self-protection that the individual adopts when he feels impotent from lack of knowing what to do and how to do it. Thence, we can understand why people often appear to ‘do nothing about it’.

In Level Three (Unlove-Knowledge) we find a different possibility of acting and position oneself towards the world and life, and which also raises certain worries. We can find here authoritarian attitudes and relationships in which the decision regarding what to do and how to do it belongs to those in a position of superiority or power. Emotional involvement, if there is any, may happen at the limit of fulfilling goals established by the knowledge dimension. In Paulo Freire’s proposal we find here, for example, the cases of Banking Education, or those cases in which professionals decide which projects and actions ought to be executed in the community, based on the knowledge they have and which justifies them in acting in this manner.

In Level Four (Love-Knowledge) we find the attitude we expect when one aims to carry out actions that lead to overcoming conditions of oppression and exploitation, and also contribute for people once again believing that it is possible to change and improve their lives, and that it is possible to have rights and dignity. We find present here practices that are guided by knowledge, which is itself renewed and recreated at each stage of the work by the resources available to face up to the problems, together with bonds of unity and partnership that permits all those involved to create a frame of reference and solidarity that helps them create strategies for collective survival in everyday life.

II.2.2 Possibilities for Action in Community 2:  Axis Love/Unlove versus Hope/Hopelessness.

One speaks here of the bonds of unity and affection, and the possibilities of a future or of projects that can be carried out and shared. One speaks of sensitivity towards another in direct relation with the utopia for the future. This is shown in Figure followed.

Figure 4:  Panel of Possible Participations 2: Axes Love/Unlove versus Hope/Hopelessness (see PDF for figure)

In Level Five (Love-Hopelessness) actions are guided by the bonds and connections that may already exist or which are currently being built in community projects and people's everyday life. Meanwhile, the belief in the possibility that such actions will also lead to change is almost inexistent, as if there were no plans for the future. At the same time, to place oneself in this level indicates the existence of prime ground for the establishment of conformism and dogmas that replace belief in being able to change and alter one's life conditions.

In Level Six (Unlove-Hopelessness) we are faced with a delicate situation regarding the possibility of actions that are conducive to change. In other words, people don’t believe that there is the possibility of a better future, and at the same time do not get involved nor do they worry about this or the existing situation. We thus have the right terrain for selfishness and isolated, short-term actions. This may then create another sort of insensitivity towards events and suffering in others’ lives, given that there isn’t a collective project or unity.

In Level Seven (Unlove-Hope) we can find some perspectives on change, since there is some belief in the future. Meanwhile, because there is no commitment or involvement in the situation or with people, this belief in the future seems closer to certain motivations present in a more immediate and individualistic perspective. The place of the Other and his life are not included within the range of worries preoccupying those placed at this level.

In Level Eight (Love-Hope) contrary to previous positions, we have the sector in which participation is implemented through commitment and involvement with the other, in such a way that bonds and feelings of belonging develop. We find here another section aiming towards practice in the community from a perspective of emancipation and social transformation. One could speak then about an element of utopia in community work and in human relationships in which feelings of belonging are encouraged.

II.2.3  Possibilities for Action in Community 3:  Axes Knowledge/Ignorance versus Hope/Hopelessness

To conclude this reflection on the possibilities of action and the results they produce in terms of impact on awareness, we now have the sectors relative to practices placed at some point along the axis of knowledge-ignorance and the axis of hope-hopelessness. This can be seen in Figure 5 .

Figure 5: Panel of Possible Participations 3: Axes Knowledge/Ignorance versus Hope/Hopelessness (See PDF for figure)

In Level Nine (Knowledge-Hopelessness) we find action that, albeit guided by some knowledge regarding reality or its determinants, comes impregnated with a certain hopelessness and disbelief. One may see a certain weariness when confronted with situations and the problems experienced, together with a vision or attitude that denote fatalism, in the sense that one no longer believes that there is another possibility or alternative; that there is a different future. This also points to the fact that information and knowledge, even if correct and precise, are not always by themselves capable of leading people to do things and to change their lives. There is also the need for some kind of project, as a source of motivation and organization pro-change.

In Level Ten (Ignorance-Hopelessness) actions appear mediated by conformism in the face of the precariousness and adversity of the situation, together with a certain adaptation that permits one to face up to this state of affairs. On the one hand there is no collective project, and on the other there is no knowledge of what to do, which in turn results from either ignorance of lack of access to information. We also find here a strong process of naturalization of everyday life: conformism and adaptation to existing conditions, as if they were immutable.

In Level Eleven (Ignorance-Hope) on the contrary, there is motivation or possibility of change and future projects. However, ignorance or the lack of information and resources prevents this from happening: magical alternatives or one’s dependent on people that have such knowledge or resources are created; or still, projects may be so copious and generic – as the result of lack of knowledge about the real conditions - that they become unattainable. In this way, a new circle of inevitability regarding concrete problems is generated, together with a certain dose of conformism necessary to make this way of life acceptable.

In Level Twelve (Knowledge-Hope) we find the sector in which, through different forms of acting and participating, the dimensions that are complementary and which provide one of the pillars necessary for the possibility of change in everyday life come together. There is an alliance between the knowledge of all those who participate and are involved in a dialectic relationship of exchange and respect, and the projects for a better and fairer society in private and public life. We find here pro-change participation and the overcoming of forms of oppression and exclusion.

III. Some Reflections on the Proposal Put Forward

How are awareness-raising and participation articulated in ways of facing-up to and strategies for survival and resistance in everyday life? That is, how do we sever the relation between oppression and injustice that create forms of impotence and fatalism regarding life? It was in this perspective that a proposal was here put forward for an intersection between those bipolar axes, which also points to some psychosocial effects on actions.

Men, as a being-in-relation and acting in his daily life, is placed at some point along three continuums: knowledge-ignorance; love-unlove; hope-hopelessness. One can say that Paulo Freire presents us these continuums as having a certain parallelism between them. In doing this, the idea arises, for example, that if someone places themselves on the ‘Love’ side, they will also end up placing themselves on the side of hope and knowledge; or, the other way around, siding with ‘unlove’ they would also side with hopelessness and ignorance, and this seems to indicate that there are no other possibilities and that human action does not involve dilemmas or paradoxes.

However, it is precisely with this dialectic of everyday attitudes – expressing dilemmas and daily standoffs - that Community Social Psychology has been confronted. It was in this sense, and with a view to understanding these challenges, that a Model of Analysis was suggested that brings together some links between Paulo Freire and Ignacio Martin-Baró and adds, along the psychosocial dimension, the dilemmas, paradoxes and contradictions experienced daily in community work in the field of Community Social Psychology.

Hence, in this context, the proposal put forward suggests that we think about the three continuums in terms of axes that intersect each other, rather than running in parallel. Accordingly, in the perspective of the analysis here presented, each panel shows us how different types of participation and awareness-raising take place in everyday life, depending on which basic values are being considered. In each of these panels, one can find different types of strategy for survival, be they ones of resistance and negotiation, of facing-up to and overcoming, or submission and conformism to the ruling ideology and power.

The intersecting axes, as shown in several Figures, indicate different stages in the Process of Awareness-raising, which could be paired with the levels or degrees of awareness suggested by Paulo Freire. They also reveal possibilities for action, showing more or less accentuated degrees of conformism-resistance and transformation-maintenance.

In proposing this way of understanding the Possibilities for Action in Community and Processes of Awareness-Raising involved, the aim was to make an analysis that allows us to capture the movements and variations in Human Action, as well as the motives responsible for such action. The contribution made by this analysis follows, in part, from the fact that during community practice various dilemmas and stalemates regarding “what to do” and “how to participate” present themselves in a particularly vivid way. And considering a more complex and challenging network of actions, there is the fact that community work involves at least a social ‘other’ and he, in turn, involves ‘various others’ that make up and integrate his community network with different forms of power and tensions.

The Network of Tensions and Action lived in the day-to-day has, therefore, a clear collective dimension, and for this very reason reveals the enormous challenges and dilemmas we face in order to help our community projects succeed, independently of whether people are aware of or defend their importance (Freitas, 2005, 2008b).

In this discussion we have attempted to show that this relation does not always happen, in so far as there are contradictory attitudes, like those noted in the various panels analyzed, and yet even so people participate. For this reason, there are various situations in which sharing dilemmas and uncertainties does not always give us strength to participate and change, sometimes even producing the opposite effect.  It was in search of a dialectic understanding of these paradoxes and dilemmas that a discussion was here made of actions in the various panels. The aim was primarily to bring about a debate that could guide the ‘what to do’ in the everyday practice of community work committed to social transformation.

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María de Fátima Quintal de Freitas, Federal University of Paraná, Brazil María de Fátima Quintal de Freitas, Federal University of Paraná, Brazil

María de Fátima Quintal de Freitas is on the faculty at the Federal University of Paraná, Brazil.

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