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COMMUNITYPSYCHUK  December 2004

COMMUNITYPSYCHUK December 2004

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Subject:

Re: new CP text - five questions

From:

"Franks, Wendy - Clinical Psychologist" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

The UK Community Psychology Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 8 Dec 2004 13:46:26 -0000

Content-Type:

text/plain

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text/plain (430 lines)

I've been following this discussion with interest. I think it's very
important to remain critical about our own work and that of the 'field' to
which we contribute. I sincerely agree with the point that being critical
does not have to imply hostility. 

I don't consider that critical psychology exclusively spends it's time
saying what it is (we are?) against, this is especially evident when you
look at the many creative and inspiring presentations that we enjoyed at
recent Comm. Psy conferences. Yes, the best of CP does avoid that. 

I think the space and thoughtful critique offered to my colleagues and I at
the Exeter conference (following our presentation about our dilemmas in
working with refugees, aslyum seekers and migrant workers) was a great
example of how we can use critical reflection and debate to inform our
actions. David said  'Shouldn't we as a network be creating a context in
which critical analysis of each other's work is appreciated as a form of
support?' This is exactly what I felt we were offered at the conference. The
way this was offered did feel very constructive, supportive and encouraging,
and we returned to Great Yarmouth full of energy and ideas. 

On reflection, I think about the earlier discussion about supervision in
community psychology, and feel that what we had was a very rare and well
appreciated opportunity for peer supervision on our developing work.
Comments were made to us individually and during the group that our approach
seemed brave and I wondered about this? There could certainly have been
negative and destructive criticism of our work, and it is to the credit of
the community that this network has built that we felt able to be open to a
critique of our work without fear. 

I think the benefit to us and the project and hopefully ultimately to local
communities significantly outweighed the potential personal risk, and I
think it could equally benefit others if we could find ways of making this
kind of resource more widely available.  I think this ties in well with my
colleague Nicola's comments (during the 'soap box') about the importance of
supporting each other. 

Wendy 

-----Original Message-----
From: Mark Burton [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
Sent: 07 December 2004 22:30
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: new CP text - five questions


Some possible answers to David's questions:


> 1. Are we anywhere near directing all critical effort inwards to the
> c.p. community or are we somewhere near directing almost no critical
> effort inwards to our own community psychology theory and practice?
> Whilst most of us are aware of  negativity towards community
> psychology from positivists, experimentalists, medical model clinical
> psychologists etc., what serious critical analysis is there of
> community psychology from within the frane of reference of its own
> values and assumptions?
 I'd be happier to see a constructive analysis that presents a more
adequate approach.  As someone else said: the problem with the
critical psychology movement in general is that it spends all its time
saying what it is against, but isn't very good at saying what it is for.
The best of CP avoids that.

> 2. Are we in danger of defaulting to the assumption that critical
> (ideological) analysis of community psychology is hostile or
> unconstructive? If we are to construct and practice a community
> psychology which is less ideologically problematic than most
> manifestations of psychology, shouldn't we welcome assistance in
> identifying and addressing problems with what we do? Shouldn't we as a
> network be creating a context in which critical analysis of each
> other's work is appreciated as a form of support?
Yes - the question is again how and with what priorities.

> 3. Does the geographical location of a voice offer a safeguard against
> that voice being a manifestation of US dominance?  Could Mr Blair have
> contributed more to US military global military domination despite
> being neither a US citizen or based in the USA?
My own point was the same, but in inverse - (and it pains me to say
this!) - just because someone is based in the USA (or at Vanderbilt,
wherever that is), it doesn't follow that they are part of the hegemon.

> 4. Must we have a proposal for something better, and be able to put it
> down on paper, before engaging in critical analysis? But in any case,
> if so, as regards 'power', isn't there already have a radical
> alternative conceptualisation in the work over many years of David
> Smail (whose work is not referenced once in the 500 pages of Community
> Psychology: In Pursuit of Liberation and well-being).
Yes some of these alternatives already exist.  The point about
putting forward a constructive alternative, rather than just saying
what's wrong is dealt with above.

> 5. Haven't we learned from Freire that, as dads and as mums, what we
> 'know' cannot be taken at face value and that critical reflection on
> what we 'know', including the stories about ourselves us which we have
> internalised, is essential if we are to escape being agents of our own
> oppression? Doesn't the work of Martin-Baro and popular education in
> Latin America suggest that critical reflection can not only change
> things for people but that, in the face of total power, it is one of
> the few practically effective ways forward?
Yes - we need to de-ideologise common sense as much as theory,
and supposed empirical fact.  But I don't think either Freire or
Martín-Baró would have said that critical reflection on its own
changes anything.   One reason the latin american approaches are
so interesting and potentially helpful is precisely because they
emphasised the active construction of an alternative, through
engagement with social reality - therory (ways to understand the
world) is constructed and reconstructed through trying to change
the world, and people themselves change in the process.  So if I've
a problem with Isaac's model, I should try and test it through my
engagement with people and their realities, and then suggest a
better one - in fact some work that looks a bit like that is going on.
Mark


>
> David
>
> David Fryer
> Community Psychology Group
> University of Stirling
> FK9 4LA
> Scotland
> +44 (0) 1786 467650 (tel)
> +44 (0) 1786 467641 (fax)
> [log in to unmask]
>         -----Original Message-----
>         From: The UK Community Psychology Discussion List
>         [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Dawn
>         DARLASTON-JONES Sent: 07 December 2004 12:48 am To:
>         [log in to unmask] Subject: Re: new CP text -
>         some critical reflection
>
>
>         Hi David
>         I read with interest your observations on the new CP text from
>         Isaac - I think your comments make a great deal of sense and
>         raise an issue a few of us (including my husband who except
>         for what he learns via me has no real knowledge of CP) have
>         been discussing. There are times when it feels as if community
>         psychology has almost an arrogance that prevents us from
>         critiquing our own research/practice/people in the same way
>         that we would any other and this (at least to my way of
>         thinking) fails to reflect the value base of CP (as I
>         interpret it).
>
>         In this way there are frightening parallels to the lack of
>         criticism allowed under various situations i.e. the patriotism
>         argument which prevents criticism of the war on Iraq; or at a
>         simpler level the inability of almost any Australia to
>         countenance that one of their favourite sons (David Hookes)
>         might have initiated the fight that led to his death. This
>         might sound simplistic in comparison to what you are arguing
>         but I think the same premise applies - if we blindly accept
>         something as 'true' because we regard the source as above
>         criticism we are in danger of developing a narrow field of
>         vision.
>
>         There is also the minefield associated with a definition of CP
>         because there are so many variants, which is why I stress that
>         my lens is just that - my perspective. But surely the central
>         tenets of CP should underpin all variants and manifestations
>         of that which represents itself as CP? I think we sometimes
>         lose sight of the need for personal reflection and if
>         something is said or presented under the auspices of CP we
>         blindly accept it without looking at the context in which it
>         was produced.
>
>         I wonder if you would consider reposting your comments on our
>         CommPsych list I think it would stimulate further discussion
>         and this is necessary without as you say reducing the issue to
>         the [personalities involved. Best regards Dawn
>
>
>         ------------------------------------
>         Dawn Darlaston-Jones
>         School of Psychology
>         100 Joondalup Drive
>         Joondalup WA 6027
>         [log in to unmask]
>         6304 5527
>         -----Original Message-----
>         From: The UK Community Psychology Discussion List
>         [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of David
>         Fryer Sent: Sunday, 5 December 2004 6:14 AM To:
>         [log in to unmask] Subject: Re: new CP text -
>         some critical reflection
>
>         A new community psychology book, especially a critical one, is
>         a welcome event, Isaac Prilleltensky has written some very
>         stimulating material, there are many interesting contributors
>         to this book. I have decided to use this book as a course text
>         (the paperback is just over £20) for my community psychology
>         undergraduate 3rd year course at Stirling (running for the
>         last time after 10 years because the Department has succeeded
>         in finding a way to close it down at last).
>
>         That said, I will be doing my best to support the community
>         psychology course members in reading its contents very
>         critically indeed (in both senses of 'critical' - sceptically
>         and with an ideological scalpel) and to deconstruct the book,
>         the context of its construction and promotion and the
>         receptivity of many to the ideas.
>
>         Why? The 'phenomenon' in community psychology of which this
>         book is the latest manifestation surely deserves critical
>         scrutiny. Isaac is phenomenally productive in terms of
>         publication, a celebrity academic at conferences and his
>         career rise has been meteoric - to the perhaps the most
>         powerful and prestigious position (replacing Bob Newbrough as
>         Professor) at one of the best set up CP outfits (in terms of
>         staff and post grad students)  at one of the richest amd most
>         privileged universities in the USA (Vanderbilt) and therefore
>         in the whole world. I don't doubt Isaac's ability, capacity to
>         work hard and long, commitment, tactical and strategic nous or
>         sincere and good intentions. My reservations are not about
>         that. However, I do ask myself what this phenomeneon tells us
>         about the community psychology 'community' which is so
>         thirstily receptive and uncritically accepting of this
>         phenomenon.
>
>         I worry that part of the attraction is that we collectively
>         want to be able to read and talk as if we have radical new
>         conceptual tools with which to engage with power and
>         oppression but to carry on in the same old same old . .
>
>         I also wory that this phenomenon is just another manifestation
>         of US intellectual domination to go along with the economic,
>         cultural and military domination.
>
>         I am not the only one with doubts. My course members used an
>         internet early draft version of the book and as part of the
>         course work wrote a book review of it. All the student reviews
>         were then merged into one composite review. The student
>         readers found many aspects of the draft version problematic.
>
>         As always, it is difficult to think and communicate critically
>         about phenomena which are in some sense enacted by individuals
>         without risking being represneted by by some as being hostile
>         to those individuals. That is emphatically not my intention
>         here.
>
>         A Special Issue of the Journal of Community Psychology is in
>         preparation which features a target paper on psychopolitical
>         validity by Isaac Prilleltensky and a set of commentaries. I
>         know becase I have written one of them. That SI should make
>         interesting reading.
>
>         So, good news that there is a new critical community
>         psychology book but even better news if its publication leads
>         to sustained, respectful, critical community psychology
>         scrutiny of it and the phenomenon it represents.
>
>         David
>
>         David Fryer
>         Community Psychology Group
>         University of Stirling
>         FK9 4LA
>         Scotland
>         +44 (0) 1786 467650 (tel)
>         +44 (0) 1786 467641 (fax)
>         [log in to unmask]
>
>         -----Original Message-----
>         From: The UK Community Psychology Discussion List
>         [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Mark
>         Burton Sent: 30 November 2004 11:43 pm To:
>         [log in to unmask] Subject: new CP text
>
>
>         The new Nelson and Prileltensky Community Psychology text is
>         now out.  (OK  we've got a chapter in it but we aren't going
>         to make our fortunes this way! and there is a load of other
>         useful stuff). You can order it at:
>         http://www.palgrave.com/products/Catalogue.aspx?is=0333922816
>
>
>         Here is the publisher's blurb
>
>         Community Psychology
>         In Pursuit of Liberation and Well-Being Geoffrey Nelson and
>         Isaac Prilleltensky
>
>
>                 Hardback        156mm x 234mm
>                 November 2004   0333922816
>                 608 Pages       £60.00
>
>
>
>
>
>                 Read More:
>                 Description |  Contents |   Authors
>                 Read a sample chapter
>
>
>
>         DescriptionWritten in a highly engaging style, Community
>         Psychology provides students with an introduction to the
>         history, values and conceptual, intervention, and research
>         tools of community psychology and illustrates how these values
>         and tools can be applied to a wide range of social issues.
>         Critical perspectives and international examples are provided
>         by authors from around the world on how community psychology
>         can aid in the liberation of oppressed groups and promote
>         social justice and well-being.
>
>         Contents PART ONE: CONTEXT AND OVERVIEW
>         Community Psychology: Journeys in the Global Context
>         The Project of Community Psychology: Issues, Values and Tools
>         for Liberation and Well-Being PART TWO: VALUES, PRINCIPLES AND
>         CONCEPTUAL TOOLS The Values of Community Psychology Ecology,
>         Prevention and Promotion Power and Community Accountability,
>         Commitment and Inclusion PART THREE: TOOLS FOR ACTION An
>         Overview of Community Psychology Interventions Social
>         Interventions Organizational and Community Interventions Small
>         Group and Individual Interventions PART FOUR: TOOLS FOR
>         RESEARCH The Foundations of Community Research Community
>         Research Methods: Post-Positivist and Social Constructivist
>         Paradigms Community Research Methods: Critical Paradigm PART
>         FIVE: PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER: ADDRESSING THE ISSUES
>         Marginalization; C.Kagan & M.Burton Globalization, Poverty and
>         Social Justice; T.Sloan Colonization and Racism; M.Glover,
>         P.Dudgeon & I.Huygens Immigration and Adaption: Confronting
>         the Challenges of Cultural Diversity; C.Sonn & A.Fisher
>         Gender, Power and Community Psychology; H.Gridley & C.Turner A
>         Journey Towards Liberation; G.W.Harper Ableism; G.W.White
>         Creating New Possibilities for Promoting Liberation,
>         Well-being and Recovery; B.Kloos Disadvantaged Children and
>         Families; L.Peirson Environmental Degradation and Ecologically
>         Minded Alternatives; E.Bennett PART SIX: LOOKING TOWARDS THE
>         FUTURE Between Person and Society: Community Psychology's
>         Vogage into Complexity; M.Montero Author BiographiesGEOFFREY
>         NELSON AND ISAAC PRILLELTENSKY have considerable experience in
>         the teaching, research and practice of community psychology;
>         both have directed well-respected programs in community
>         psychology in Canada, Australia and the United States.
>
>
>         Mark Burton
>         Head of Service:
>         Manchester Learning Disability Partnership, and Visiting
>         Professor of Human Services, Manchester Metropolitan
>         University
>
>         Mauldeth House
>         Mauldeth Rd West
>         Chorlton
>         Manchester
>         M21 7RL
>
>         tel. 0161 958 4014
>
>         work email address:  [log in to unmask]
>
>
>         Home:
>         37 Chandos Rd South
>         Chorlton
>         Manchester
>         M21 0TH
>         tel.  0161 881 6887, local rate no.:  0845 458 1165
>         [log in to unmask] fax:0870 751 5595
>
>         ___________________________________
>
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