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Resuscitating Critical Psychology for “Revolting” Times

Authors


Michelle Fine, The Graduate Center, CUNY 365 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10016 [e-mail: mfine@gc.cuny.edu].

Abstract

Playing with the doubled use of the term “revolting”—as an adjective to describe the repulsive inequality gaps that litter the globe and as a delightful gerund to capture the thrilling days of global collective protest—this Lewin address muses about social psychology's debt in politically difficult times of massive inequality and sustained oppression. I venture back to the 1930s for inspiration, reviewing the writings of Lewin, Jahoda, and Dollard, as well as the research of W.E.B. Du Bois in the early 1900s and Ignacio Martín-Baró toward the latter part of the 1900s, to understand how social psychologists have intervened theoretically and empirically to contest injustice, inspire solidarity, and advance more just social arrangements. Calling for research that both documents the collateral damage of neoliberalism and generates alternative visions of democracy and justice, the second half of the article sketches a critical participatory action research project conducted with urban youth, which was designed to challenge both the strategic disinvestment in the public sphere and the concomitant conservatizing pressures on our methods of social inquiry, raising questions about “evidence-based practice” and the current marketing of Randomized Clinical Trials as the “gold standard.”

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