Troubling history and diversity: Disciplinary decadence in community psychology


According to Lewis Gordon, one is said to adhere to disciplinary decadence when disciplinary orthodoxy is prioritised over how particular problems are addressed. Under neoliberal capitalism, disciplinary decadence oftentimes reproduces a politics that is based on individual – rather than collective – freedoms (i.e. a liberal politics). This article interrogates two common disciplinarily decadent ways of politicising community psychology (CP), namely: parochial historicization and respect for diversity as liberal tolerance. We contend that in both cases, pseudo-progressive language is used to advance a liberal politics distorts the collective change-making capacities of CP. In an attempt to break from such liberal politics, we consider the progressive potential of an ethic of discomfort in CP. It is through this ethic, we argue, that ­we can begin to recognize the institutional limitations of CP, while realizing the role that CP is (and is not) able to play in community struggles. We conclude by calling for a CP that signifies a critical approach rather than a set of disciplinarily-bound dictums.


DOI Code: 10.1285/i24212113v6i2-1p144

Keywords: Tolerance; historiography; justice; diversity; curriculum; disciplinary decadence; discomfort


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