A History of “Relevance” in Psychology by Wahbie Long

By Wahbie Long

This booklet represents the 1st try and historicise and theorise appeals for ‘relevance’ in psychology. It argues that the patience of questions on the ‘relevance’ of psychology derives from the discipline’s terminal lack of ability to outline its material, its reliance on a socially disinterested technological know-how to underwrite its wisdom claims, and its consequent failure to deal with itself to the wishes of a speedily altering international.

The chapters cross directly to give some thought to the ‘relevance’ debate inside South African psychology, via seriously analysing discourse of forty-five presidential, keynote and starting addresses brought at annual nationwide psychology congresses among 1950 and 2011, and observes how appeals for ‘relevance’ have been complicated by way of reactionary, revolutionary and radical psychologists alike.

The booklet offers, furthermore, the provocative thesis that the innovative quest for ‘social relevance’ that begun within the Sixties has been supplanted by way of an ethic of ‘market relevance’ that threatens to isolate the self-discipline nonetheless farther from the anxieties of broader society. With robust curiosity teams carrying on with to co-opt psychologists with out relent, it is a improvement that in basic terms psychologists of judgment of right and wrong can arrest.

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They knew all too well about the military draft, too, and at a time when the Supreme Court was making landmark rulings against segregation and censorship, dissident politics had become a manifest possibility. Drawn disproportionately from the upper middle class, committed to the goals of a liberal education and not usually prompted into action by the violation of their own rights, American student activists viewed themselves as the voice of the oppressed.  162). Just as education in its classical sense was meant to mold character, student protestors hoped for a meaningful appreciation of human nature, society, and morality that would teach them how to be and what to do in a troubled world.

For Martín-Baró, the stakes were impossibly high, having said to one North American colleague, “In your country, it’s publish or perish. In ours, it’s publish and perish” (Aron and Corne 1996, p. 2, original emphasis).  20); second, a deficient epistemology that canonized positivism, individualism, hedonism, homeostasis, ahistoricism; and third, an unhelpful dogmatism that was founded on false binaries. He advocated, instead, a new disciplinary horizon dedicated to the cause of liberation, the perspective of the oppressed, and an unashamedly political praxis that has continued to inspire liberation psychologists around the world.

South African Journal of Psychology, 19(2), 91–100.  F. W. (1932). The poor white problem in South Africa. Report of the Carnegie commission.

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