By Wahbie Long
This e-book represents the 1st try to historicise and theorise appeals for ‘relevance’ in psychology. It argues that the patience of questions about the ‘relevance’ of psychology derives from the discipline’s terminal lack of ability to outline its subject material, its reliance on a socially disinterested technological know-how to underwrite its wisdom claims, and its consequent failure to handle itself to the desires of a quickly altering international.
The chapters move directly to contemplate the ‘relevance’ debate inside of South African psychology, by way of seriously analysing discourse of forty-five presidential, keynote and commencing addresses added at annual nationwide psychology congresses among 1950 and 2011, and observes how appeals for ‘relevance’ have been complicated by means of reactionary, revolutionary and radical psychologists alike.
The publication offers, in addition, the provocative thesis that the progressive quest for ‘social relevance’ that all started within the Nineteen Sixties has been supplanted through an ethic of ‘market relevance’ that threatens to isolate the self-discipline nonetheless farther from the anxieties of broader society. With strong curiosity teams carrying on with to co-opt psychologists with no relent, this can be a improvement that basically psychologists of sense of right and wrong can arrest.
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Additional info for A History of “Relevance” in Psychology
Along with the regional turmoil of those years—particularly in Angola, Mozambique, and Rhodesia—from the mid-1970s onward the apartheid state lurched from one crisis to the next in a steady trajectory of terminal decline. g. Manganyi 1973). Manganyi’s early contributions were made during the apogee of apartheid rule, yet it was only with the writing already on the wall that developments in the professional mainstream started reflecting what was going on in the country and beyond. From 1978, PIRSA—the Afrikaner whites-only psychological association—backtracked on its founding ethos of racial separatism to hold 34 A HISTORY OF “RELEVANCE” IN PSYCHOLOGY joint conferences with the racially integrated South African Psychological Association (SAPA).
1064). Whereas Ring’s (1967) version of “social relevance” was concerned mostly with what to study, McGuire (1973) believed that the demand for “social relevance” deflected attention from another, more troubling matter: the “socially relevant” hypothesis was based on a linear model of causality and did nothing to address the fundamental shortcomings of the experimental method itself. 583). “Social relevance”—and, by implication, social change— seemed inconceivable in an ahistorical psychology that, for decades, had dedicated itself to a mechanistic understanding of human action.
These ideas dovetailed seamlessly with the untested notion of a “hierarchy of races,” advocated in 1920 by the Eugenics and Genetics Standing Committee of the South African Association for the Advancement of Science. In need of scientific validation, here was a challenge tailor-made for the ministrations of psychological expertise (Louw 1997 cited in Seedat and MacKenzie 2008). Yet, the discipline’s most noteworthy achievement during the interwar years would stem from its involvement in the Carnegie Commission’s Poor White Study.