Race, Racism, and Psychology: Towards a Reflexive History

By Graham Richards | Go to book overview
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Chapter 11

Résumé
The reader, or skimmer, is owed a final summing up. The approach adopted in this book has been determined by the following underlying premises:
Psychology as a discipline is a product of the 'psychologies' of those within the discipline. It is therefore necessarily reflexive in character. The Psychological knowledge Psychology produces directly articulates and expresses the psychological character of the psychologists producing it-their ways of thinking, their priorities, attitudes, values, and so on.
Psychologists represent specific psychological constituencies in the discipline's host societies. Until the mid-20th century these were predominantly white, male, and middle- or upper-class. While constituting a restricted sample of the psychological constituencies in society as a whole, there was always a degree of psychological heterogeneity within this group both within and between the sites where the discipline was practised.
The historical process of change within Psychology has thus been determined by several factors over and above any 'objective' knowledge gains. These include: changes in the psychological character of its practitioners in the light of changed socio-historical circumstance (in the present case this includes changes in the nature of their relationship with the non-white and Jewish constituencies providing their subject groups), and broadening of the range of psychological constituencies represented within the discipline. They also reflexively include the discipline's own previously produced 'knowledge'. Three things immediately follow from these:
Psychology is one of the social arenas in which the psychological issues facing Psychology's host societies are formulated, discussed, and putatively resolved. Thus historical changes in the discipline both reflect and help constitute psychological change itself.
The psychological issues facing a particular psychological constituency can only be addressed within Psychology in a fashion which is satisfactory for members of that constituency insofar as it is itself represented within the discipline.
Conversely, excluded constituencies can be considered only in terms of their psychological significance for those included.

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