The application of psychological expertise in post-apartheid South Africa : a tracer study of masters graduates from the University of KwaZulu-Natal.
Nikolas Rose, heavily influenced by Foucault's concept of "governmentality", has proposed that psychological expertise has come to play an important role in governing conduct in liberal democracies. This study was an empirical attempt to explore these theoretical arguments in South Africa, a developing democracy. Recent debates on the practice of psychology in South Africa, occurring amidst socio/political initiatives of reconstruction and development, have focused on the relevance of the discipline given its involvement in the apartheid context. The current study reflected on some of the changes in application that have resulted from calls for relevance. The participants of the study were Masters Graduates from the University ofKwaZulu-Natal, previously University of Natal and University of Durban-Westville, in the period from 19932003. Influenced by Rose's theoretical ideas advocating a history of problematizations, the data collection focussed on understanding the practical problems psychologists deal with in their work contexts and the practices used to solve these problems. Results suggest a growing application towards socially relevant problems, which include socio/economic and public health issues. Furthermore psychological expertise predominantly intervenes with individualized technologies of the self, encouraging "self-government". The governmentality framework exposes some limitations of the application of psychology in the developing world context.