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 about 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 handle itself to the wishes of a speedily altering international.

The chapters cross directly to reflect on the ‘relevance’ debate inside South African psychology, by way of seriously analysing discourse of forty-five presidential, keynote and establishing addresses added at annual nationwide psychology congresses among 1950 and 2011, and observes how appeals for ‘relevance’ have been complex by way of reactionary, innovative and radical psychologists alike.

The ebook provides, additionally, the provocative thesis that the innovative quest for ‘social relevance’ that started within the Nineteen Sixties has been supplanted via 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 out relent, it is a improvement that simply psychologists of judgment of right and wrong can arrest.

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The lingering imperialism of American culture was the shared object of disenchantment; there was a growing feeling that the dominance of the English language in education—in psychology, for example—needed to be challenged by installing the national language as the medium of instruction. Nationwide teachins, demonstrations, and violence culminated in the imposition of martial law in September 1972. By then, Virgilio Enriquez had just returned to the country after completing his doctorate in social psychology at Northwestern University.

This was less a matter of “social relevance” contradicting A HISTORY OF “RELEVANCE” 23 itself to become an instance of Fanonian imitativeness than of inevitable questions being asked about the Third World applicability of an imported Euro-American “ready-made intellectual package” (Nandy 1974, p. 7).  105–106). For newly independent countries in Asia, Latin America, and Africa, the end of colonialism generated powerful imperatives for socioeconomic and technological development that had taken centuries to accomplish elsewhere.

Report of the Carnegie commission.

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A History of “Relevance” in Psychology by Wahbie Long
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