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Critical Community Psychology

Carolyn Kagan, Mark Burton, Paul Duckett, Rebecca Lawthom, Asiya Siddiquee

ISBN: 978-1-405-18884-5 May 2011 396 Pages

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Interest in community psychology, and its potential has grown in parallel with changes in welfare and governmental priorities. Critical Community Psychology provides students of different community based professions, working in a range of applied settings, at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels, with a text which will underpin their community psychological work.

Key Features:

· Clear learning objectives and chapter contents outlined at the start of each chapter.

· Key terms highlighted with definitions, either as marginal notes or in chapter glossaries.

· Case examples of community psychology in action.

· Each chapter ends with a critical assessment section .

· Discussion points and ideas for exercises that can be undertaken by the reader, in order to extend critical understanding.

· Lists of further resources - e.g. reading, film, electronic.

· Authors are members of the largest community psychology departmental team in Europe.

Related Resources


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1 Introduction 1

Critical community psychology in Manchester 2

Why Manchester? 3

Learning through action and action through learning 5

Action learning 7

Action research 7

Language, discourse and representation 9

What do we mean by ‘critical’? 12

Orientation to the book 13


2 What is critical community psychology? 17

The nature and origins of community psychology 18

Definitions 21

The emergence of community psychology in different parts of the world 24

Key themes in critical community psychology 28

Core values underpinning a critical community psychology 36

Social justice 37

Stewardship 38

Community 38

Conclusion 39

3 Core elements of a critical community psychology 41

Elements of critical community psychology 42

The ecological metaphor 42

The systems perspective 47

Multiple levels of analysis 48

The person-in-context 49

Working together 59

Prefigurative action 60

Core principles underlying a critical community psychology 62

Diversity 62

Innovation 62

Liberation 63

Commitment 63

Critical reflection 63

Humility 63

Conclusions 67

4 The contested nature of community 69

What is community? 71

Theory descriptions of community 73

Dimensions of community: Sentiment, social structure and space 74

Sentiment 74

Space 79

Social structure 81

Multi-dimensional communities 83

Social exclusion 85

Conclusions 87

5 Community as social ties 89

Social ties 90

Affection 91

Interdependence 91

Coercion 92

Theory prescriptions for community 93

Ties of affection and co-operation: Community as social capital 94

Ties of coercion: Community as ghetto 98

Social boundaries: benign or benevolent? 102

Community and social policy 103

Nature of participation 104

Conclusion 110

Critical disruption of Think! 111

Critically disrupting the challenge to individualism 111

Critically disrupting our history of community psychology 113

Resources for Part I 117


6 Problem definition 123

Social issues 125

Need 126

Positionality and problem defi nition 130

Whose need? 131

Getting to know the community 132

Community audit 132

Community profi ling 133

Use of statistics 137

Observation 137

Community walks 138

Making contact and gaining entry in the community 139

Problem situations as human systems 142

Stakeholders and stakeholder analyses 151

Conclusion 154

7 Action planning 155

Decision making 156

Stakeholder analysis and action planning 160

Boundary critique: towards value-based decision making 161

Fourth generation evaluation 168

Participatory appraisal of needs and development of action 169

Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats 170

Force field analysis 171

Option appraisal 174

Compromise 175

Visioning 176

Mixing methods 178

Complex decision making: Polarity management 179

8 Action 1: Furtherance of critical consciousness and creation of new forms of social settings 183

Action for change 184

Strategies of critical community psychological action 186

Furtherance of critical consciousness (conscientisation) 186

Problematisation 188

Experiential learning 191

‘Capacitation’ 195

Deideologisation 197

Creation of new forms of social relations and settings 198

Multi-dimensional nature of social situations 198

Behaviour settings 200

New or alternative social settings 202

The radical nature of alternative social settings 206

9 Action 2: Development of alliances, and accompaniment, advocacy and analysis of policy 209

Making links, the development of alliances and counter systems 210

Processes of making links and working together 210

Communities of interest or communities of practice 213

Alliances and coalitions 213

Partnerships 216

Working at the ecological edge 217

Alliances, new social settings and connecting with social movements 222

Accompaniment, advocacy and analysis of policy 224

Accompaniment 224

Advocacy 228

Analysis of policy 234

Conclusions 240

Critical disruption of Act! 241

Chronic uncertainty 242

Work ethic 243

Resources for Part II 245


10 Evaluation 251

Purpose of evaluation 252

Principles of evaluation 253

Evaluation frameworks 255

Politics of evaluation 259

What is to be evaluated? 261

‘Theory of change’ perspectives on evaluation 262

Realistic or realist perspectives on evaluation 263

Capacity building for evaluation 268

Participation and evaluation 270

Participation and empowerment in evaluation 271

Resistance to involvement as a barrier to participation in evaluation 274

Skills for evaluation 276

Conclusions 278

11 Change, influence and power 279

The nature of social change 280

Incremental or radical change 283

Linear and non-linear change 284

Stage approaches to change 285

Strategic change 286

Resistance to change 287

Action research as change 290

Social movements, power and ideology 291

Social influence 292

Social change tactics 294

Social power, powerlessness and empowerment 294

Taxonomy of power 295

The social structure of social power 298

Power analysis 300

12 Roles, skills and refl ections on learning for community psychologists 303

Roles for facilitating change 304

Facilitation roles 304

Educational roles 304

Representational roles 305

Technical roles 306

Skills for facilitating change 307

Interpersonal communication skills 308

Social problem solving skills 308

Organisation skills 309

Research skills 309

The context of community psychological action 310

Reflexivity as part of practice 314

Constraints on working as a community psychologist and spaces for resistance 316

Ethical issues 319

Risk 320

Power (again) 322

Prefigurative learning 323

The case for and against community psychology 323

Community psychology as oppression or liberation 325

Conclusion 327

Critical disruption of Reflect! 329

Evaluation and the audit culture 329

Auditing skills 331

Critical disruption of critical reflection 333

Resources for Part III 335

13 Critical disruption: Does critical community psychology have an adequate praxis? 337

A new context: extreme and globalised oppression 340

Rethinking the amelioration–transformation distinction 341

References 343

Index 369

Clear learning objectives and chapter contents outlined at the start of each chapter

Key terms highlighted with definitions, either as marginal notes or in chapter glossaries

Case examples of community psychology in action

Each chapter ends with a critical assessment section

Discussion points and ideas for exercises that can be undertaken by the reader, in order to extend critical understanding

Lists of further resources – e.g. reading, film, electronic

Authors are members of the largest community psychology departmental team in  Europe