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    Critical psychology and revolutionary Marxism

    Parker, Ian (2009) Critical psychology and revolutionary Marxism. Theory & psychology, 19 (1). pp. 71-92. ISSN 1461-7447

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    This paper addresses the intersection between Marxism and psychology, focusing on `critical' approaches that have emerged in the discipline in the last 15 years. The paper traces the way that elements of Marxism that are diametrically opposed, and in some cases dialectically opposed, to mainstream psychology are evaded, misrepresented or systematically distorted by ostensibly `critical' psychologies in the English-speaking world. Elements of Marxist analysis—the human being as an ensemble of social relations, the materiality of the family, private property and the state, surplus value and cultural capital, alienation and exploitation and ideological mystification—are contrasted with the standard disciplinary notions of the psychological subject, society, utilitarian transparency, unhealthy experience and false beliefs. Specifications of the position of the researcher in Marxism—standpoint, reflexive location, class consciousness, institutional space and social revolution—are set against the dominant notions in mainstream psychology of neutrality, rationalism, individual enlightenment, scientific knowledge and adaptation and amelioration. Change in Marxism—as permanent change, an engagement with relatively enduring structures, theoretical practice, materialist dialectics and prefigurative politics—is pitted against the standard procedures of ratification, pragmatism, empiricism, positivism and the drawing up of blueprints. This analysis of the discipline and its `critical' variants is designed to clear the way for revolutionary Marxist work in and against the domain of psychology.

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