Growing Critical: Alternatives to Developmental Psychology

Growing Critical: Alternatives to Developmental Psychology

Growing Critical: Alternatives to Developmental Psychology

Growing Critical: Alternatives to Developmental Psychology


Looking at infancy, childhood and adulthood this book makes the startling claim that 'development' does not exist. John Morss surveys the range of modern alternatives in critical psychology from the early 70s using developmental psychology as his focus.



Growing Critical surveys available alternatives to the accounts of human development presented to us by developmental psychology. It is an introduction to the critical psychology of development.

Some of these alternatives are expressed at the fringes of orthodox psychology, some have arisen outside of psychology, and some emerge from the confused territory that is neither inside psychology nor outside of it - psychoanalysis. Critical psychology of development has listened to Freud and Lacan, but it has also listened to Marx and to Foucault. Marxism, psychoanalysis, and post-structuralism - as well as such movements as feminism - challenge our understandings of human development. What sets critical psychology apart from orthodox psychology is the seriousness with which it has thought through the implications of these challenges.

Growing Critical is focused on the claims of critical psychology of development. It does not attempt to offer a comprehensive critique of developmental psychology itself. A clear, up-to-date and lively critique is that of Burman (1994a). Growing Critical surveys the intellectual sources of critical psychology, indicates their relevance for the rethinking of ‘development’, and evaluates the success of critical psychologists in carrying out this project. Thus it evaluates the alternatives that have been proposed in the course of earlier critiques. For if human development is too important to be left to orthodox psychology, it is also too important to be left to critical psychology. It is not enough for critics simply to accuse orthodox psychology of ‘positivism’ or ‘individualism’ and to advocate the replacement of such bad ‘isms’ with good ‘isms’ (social constructionism, post-structuralism, postmodernism). We must subject the claims of the critics to an examination every bit as rigorous as their examination of the orthodoxy.

In particular, we must ask whether critical work has yet gone far enough in revising developmental psychology. Has critical psychology of development dug deep enough into the substance of the discipline? Has it been too afraid of ‘throwing the baby out with the bath-water’? What I will be arguing is that ‘the developing baby ’ does indeed have to be thrown out. It is a changeling. The real bath-tub is

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