by Stacey Prince
I know, I know, it's only January! But I just randomly stumbled across this article that was so good that I wanted to share it with you and it holds the temporary status of my favorite article of the year. The article, by Roderick Watts, is entitled Integrating Social Justice and Psychology and appeared in The Counseling Psychologist (2004, Issue 32, p. 855).
In the article the author grapples, as many of us do, with the notion that a "context free" understanding of individual functioning and well-being continues to dominate traditional psychology, focusing primarily on intrapsychic or at the most interpersonal behavior, and ignoring critical contextual variables such as racism, sexism, homophobia, poverty, and oppression in general. The article states that multiculturalism is a step in the right direction, but still sometimes has a tendency to minimize analysis of power and social inequities. He suggests that multiculturalism is "neither the first nor the only thing people with a history of oppression require for liberation" (p. 855).
However, rather than completely eschewing the concepts of traditional and multicultural psychology, he suggests a rethinking of concepts, what he calls an "upscaling" to reframe concepts in sociopolitical terms. He talks about several forms of such reframing. The first and least drastic he terms "conceptual rehabilitation," in which the new concept maintains the essence of the old, but scales it up to look beyond the micro (or intrapsychic) level of analysis. A good example of this is mapping the idea of self-efficacy onto the community, rather than individual, level of functioning and thus discussing collective efficacy. The upscaled concept address the social context of behavior, rather than considering the individual's behavior in a social vacuum.
To read entire article click here.