PINS 1983 - 1998 and the construction of an alternative discourse : text and psychology in South(ern) Africa from apartheid to liberation.
MetadataShow full item record
This study analyses the journal Psychology in Society for the period 1983 to 1998. It does so with a view to determining whether collectively the contributors fulfilled the editors' call for the construction of discourses alternative to those of mainstream psychology, both during apartheid and after liberation. In other words, it seeks to assess whether PINS constitutes a local critical psychology in print. Mainstream discourse is chiefly understood in terms of formulations in PINS and only indirectly from my readings of mainstream publications. Analyses suggest that, from 1983 to 1990, contributors to PINS aligned themselves with the editors' brief to challenge "mainstream conformist" psychology in "apartheid capitalist" South Africa. More than half of the articles have a critical Marxist thrust with the others given over to liberal humanist or progressive positions. Almost all the domains of psychology are represented. Black writers and women appear but in small numbers compared to their white, male colleagues. With the socio-political shifts of around 1990, a significant decline is evident in Marxistorientated discourses and an increase in those from liberal humanist, post-marxist, feminist and psychoanalytic sources. Africanisation also becomes an urgent issue. The dominant DA themes for the journal of "relevance", "critique", "oppression" and "indigenous" remain consistently in focus. While individual contributors cannot be said to have constructed an alternative discourse, they drew collectively on discourses mostly at odds with, or marginalised by, mainstream psychology. Some tried to include indigenous approaches to mental distress. Although the approach adopted is critical Marxist Discourse Analysis (DA), I have incorporated "deconstruction" theory. The difficulties posed by a combination of Marxism and poststructuralism are eased by employing Bhaskar's "critical realism". This allows for the analyst to '"discover" patterns of discursive features, to understand that these are also a "construction" based on assumptions and theoretical preferences, and to anchor the process in the historical contingencies of economics, power and language. The critical Marxism driving the analysis is located in the tradition of the Frankfurt School and active today in the work of social psychologists such as Ian Parker (1992, 1993, 1996). In testing my assumptions about PINS, I followed modified versions of Parker's theoretical stance and the methodological framework provided by Potter and Wetherell (1987, 1988, 1995).