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Making the psychological political – challenges for community psychology

Making the psychological political – challenges for community psychology

Mark Burton, Carolyn Kagan and Paul Duckett
Research Institute for Health and Social Change, Manchester Metropolitan University

Abstract
Community psychology deals with the life of groups of people in context and is therefore inevitably concerned with their struggles, successes, projects and dreams. Sooner or later, because these contexts are constructed economically, politically and historically, engagement with the political is inevitable as all social groups encounter social and economic interests that differ from their own. On a global scale these conflicts include competition for resources, the dynamics of profit maximisation, and the use of violence to maintain and extend economic and political domination.

In Britain community orientated psychologists have become increasingly aware of these political questions and at least some are more ready than in the past to commit to political engagement both at the local level and on national and international questions.
Some of these developments will be traced, exploring some of the following questions:

  • What are the connections with other attempts to develop a politically engaged psychology?
  • What are the prospects for such engagement and how best can community psychologists contribute to wider struggles and campaigns?
  • Why is this engagement increasing now?
  • What constraints are there to such action and do community psychologists self-constrain their political effectiveness?
  • What does this mean for the definition and focus of community and other related psychologies?

In exploring these questions it will be assumed that while professional ideology and practice has a historical specificity there is a universality of human needs and that this entails the transformation of community psychology in response to new challenges from global capital.

Key words: psychology, politics, alternatives, organising, community psychology, activism


Author

Mark Burton, Carolyn Kagan and Paul Duckett

Mark Burton, Carolyn Kagan and Paul Duckett
Research Institute for Health and Social Change, Manchester Metropolitan University


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Keywords: psychology, politics, alternatives, organising, community psychology, activism, gjcpp, 2nd ICCP