issue 2 08 - APS Member Groups - Australian Psychological Society

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issue 2 08 - APS Member Groups - Australian Psychological Society

Community psychologies12appropriate intervention) as the problem to beaddressed and accepts the physical andeconomic inaccessibility of public fitnessfacilities and transport as a given to which thewomen should accommodate.White admits that his communitypsychology interventions have ‘most often’been ‘ameliorative rather than transformative’directed at achieving individual level ‘firstorder’change such as ‘increasing a desirablebehaviour’ (e.g., physical activity) or‘decreasing an undesirable behaviour (that ispowerlessness)’. That White seespowerlessness as individual level behaviour isworrying in itself. White then draws upon hiswider knowledge of the communitypsychology literature but can only come upwith what he describes as “two strongexamples of transformation, where secondorder change has truly occurred” (p. 419). One‘resulted from consumer complaints aboutinappropriate wording and portrayals of peoplewith disabilities . . . and led to the developmentof a nationally recognized resource for themedia on how to write about and report onpeople with disabilities.” The other ‘showedthat handicapped (sic) parking signs clearlyindicating the potential amount of fines thatone could incur for parking illegally were moreeffective when compared to the standardhandicapped (sic) parking signs’ (p. 420) andthis led to some states changing their signs.These do not seem to us “strong examples oftransformation” and it is a sign of thelimitedness and ineffectiveness of 30 years ofcommunity psychology disability research ifthese are the most critically informedtransformatory interventions which White isable to cite. It is not just that no real impact ondiscriminatory disabling practices andprocedures has been achieved, thediscriminatory status quo is of course welldefended. It is more that there seems noserious engagement with the task. Thecommitment in theory of communitypsychology to tackle injustice and to promotethe liberation and well being of disabledpeople seems purely rhetorical.In contrast with White’s acriticalcommunity based disability work, we nextdescribe some Scottish ‘community criticalpsychological’ praxis which has attempted toresist, in theory and practice, ideological andintellectual colonisation by the United Statesianversion of what community psychology is andto get to grips critically with disabling practices,procedures and policies. This work, achieved bya participatory collective including one of theco-authors, Adele Laing, was an engagement insustained praxis over several years in relation todisabling practice, procedures and policies inseveral Higher Education Institutions inScotland.As we use it, ‘praxis 4 ’ refers to anongoing, irreducible, collective process throughwhich is enacted, in one and the same process,‘knowledgementing’ (the construction andlegitimation of knowledge claims), ‘radicalreflexivity’ (the bringing to awareness andcritical problematisation of interests served bywhat is thought, said and done by all relevantparties), and ‘ideologically progressive socialaction’ (the pursuit of emancipatory process andjust outcomes and the contesting of ‘externaland internal 5 ’ institutional oppression.We locate praxis within a critical frame ofreference which rejects naïve realism andpositions reality as socially constructed but,none-the-less, as having ‘real’ effects.Crucially, in our frame of reference nodistinction is drawn between power andknowledge: power-knowledge is irreducible andthe components cannot be separated. AsFoucault (1997) puts it: “power and knowledgedirectly imply one another . . . there is no powerrelation without the correlative constitution of afield of knowledge, nor any knowledge thatdoes not presuppose and constitute at the sametime power relation” (p. 27). For more on ourthinking about power see Fryer (2008b).This praxis rejects accomodationist, NorthAmerican style, Community Psychology and isinformed by the work of Michel Foucault (e.g.,1977), Paulo Freire (1972), the British DisabledThe Australian Community Psychologist Volume 20 No 2 December 2008

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