Politics and ‘Applied Psychology’: Theoretical Concepts that Question the Disciplinary Community
journal contributionposted on 07.05.2015, 10:31 by Ian A. Parker
This paper responds to a set of problems in contemporary psychology that cluster around the notion that the discipline might be ‘applied’ to the real world, and that such application would thereby serve as the methodological and conceptual grounding for ‘political psychology’. The specific problems addressed comprise ‘interpretation’ of material in the quantitative and qualitative traditions, the notion of ‘application’ as such which rests on the prior modelling of individual and collective psychological phenomena, the conceptions of ‘politics’ that operate in disciplinary interventions, the idealisation of ‘community’ in different traditions of community psychology in the US and Europe, and finally ‘psychology’ itself as the background against which these other problems are elaborated. In response to these problems the paper describes political theoretical concepts from feminist interventions in Left practice and brings them to bear on the discipline of psychology, turning the direction of travel of concepts around so that psychology itself rather than the outside world becomes the object to which ideas are ‘applied’. The five political theoretical concepts described here are ‘performativity’, ‘standpoint’, ‘the personal as political’, the ‘tyranny of structurelessness’ and ‘intersectionality’.