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Review
. 1990;31(10):1093-102.
doi: 10.1016/0277-9536(90)90231-g.

Within and Without: Images of Community and Implications for South African Psychology

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Review

Within and Without: Images of Community and Implications for South African Psychology

A Butchart et al. Soc Sci Med. .

Abstract

This paper critically analyses the historical embeddedness and ideological functions of the concept of community as it is used in South Africa by representatives of the state and its opponents. The analysis shows that 'community' is a key concept in the ideology of separatism through which an apartheid psychology and society is reproduced. This has implications for progressive psychologists who aim to empower oppressed ordinary people through interventions based upon theoretical models of community. Some of these are explored by examining the interplay between political and theoretical images of community and ordinary people's ideas about social ills. This suggests that whilst community psychology can revitalise a sense of community amongst the oppressed, it may also reinforce existing social inequalities by deflecting experts and ordinary people from the reconstruction of individual agency upon which liberating social transformation depends. It is concluded that a central task for South African psychologists is to engage in critical self-reflection with the aim of identifying and eliminating oppressive forms of social and psychological discourse, thereby empowering themselves and contributing to the construction of a coherent counterideology.

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