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This book is about the social psychological phenomenology and dynamics of social inclusion and exclusion. We take as our starting point the assumption that .
Table of contents
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- Social Exclusion
- The development of trial questionnaire on social exclusion - Social Psychology and Society - /4
- Social Exclusion Context, Importance, and Evidence
Established notions of cohesion assume consensus, whereas contestation and engagement that may lead to shared understanding in common contact zones Ahmed, , are part of creating opportunities for criticality Young, An extension to the argument of social cohesion as contestation, and of particular importance to thinking about curriculum, is Laclau and Mouffe's theory of discourse that draws on politics and occurrence of social conflict.
They highlight, not language and meaning, but the construction of antagonisms as sources of social conflict. They argue that antagonisms occur because actors or social agents are unable to attain their identities and conflict occurs in the blockage or failure of identities. The failure of identity is a mutual experience for both antagonising and antagonised.
Discourse analyses using this framework would describe the ways in which identities of agents are blocked as well as the resources used to block identities. If this thinking is applied to disciplines and curricula, they may be viewed as discourses, each with a characteristic structure and an articulatory practice Howarth, Out of these structures and practices, professionals or professional identities are meant to emerge.
By including some and excluding others along discriminatory lines, social antagonisms may arise since some social agents may experience a "blockage of identity" Howarth, In this sense, disciplines and curricula can be seen as blocking devices for some potential professionals and studying curriculation as a facilitator and a barrier may indicate ways in which social cohesion through equity can be advanced. Honneth argues similarly in relation to the violation of identity claims as blocking the emergence of social recognition through socially regulated occupations.
Thus, our engagement with the curriculum and professions goes beyond the concerns of equity as representivity or equal opportunities. It also shifts the interest in equity into the realm of social recognition and cohesion. In fact, interrogation of dominant norms and practices, as well as antagonisms, are desirable in an attempt to renegotiate conditions and practices of inclusion to constitute an order in which difference is recognised and constituted as central to social cohesion.
These critiques of social cohesion as well as understandings of curriculum suggest that educational spaces such as classrooms may constitute contact zones in which deep engagements with difference, often characterised by contestation, are possible Bozalek et al, and which are not driven by normative understandings of social cohesion. The essence inherent in recognition of difference may contribute to a social cohesion not based on consensus but paradoxically on contestation. In South African psychology, the core debates about transformation of the discipline over the last 30 years are reflected in the nexus of curriculum, social cohesion and discourse.
Contemporary context of psychology as a professional discipline in higher education: Concerns about a lack of progress. South African psychology, together with its skewed demographic representativity, continues to be a cause of concern despite significant efforts at transforming the discipline and profession during the country's first two decades of democracy. Emerging from a history of collusion with apartheid ideologies, much of South African psychology has followed the national imperative of critical engagement and reconstruction since the demise of apartheid in Critical psychologists who mobilised against apartheid were also active post in reshaping the discipline and profession, reflected consistently in the emergence and subsequent issues of this journal, Psychology in society see for example, founding edition of PINS, Recommendations around transforming the curriculum have included the following: taking African cultures, languages, healing processes and experiences as the point of departure for the psychology curriculum Baloyi ; establishing departments where postgraduate students research African worldviews in order to create a foundation for an African indigenous psychology Juma ; and introducing dedicated courses in African psychology Nwoye, ; Matoane, ; Javangwe, and dedicated modules on cultural issues Eagle, ; Matoane, Some efforts at transformation and inclusive practices in psychology, specifically in higher education contexts, were directed towards generating new materials for the curriculum to challenge the dominance of western and northern scholarship in psychology.
The approach has been to produce texts that represent local contexts and experiences and challenge traditional asocial and ahistorical thinking in psychology. These textbook editions were intended to not only provide more contextual content that students could identify with but also to challenge the over-reliance in South African psychology on North American textbooks and scholarship. While these texts have been significant and authorship has shifted in terms of race and gender, psychology training and the profession continue to represent a skewed demographic in terms of class, racial and gender categories, which speaks to continued challenges in the curriculum.
Thus while it has been an important project to develop more local, critical texts in psychology, much remains to be done. Clearly more work interrogating the curriculum in a more comprehensive way, and in particular students' experience of their training, is required. This calls for a better understanding of who our students are and what their experiences are in the discipline. Psychology students in South African higher education: Perceptions and experiences.
Psychology is a popular undergraduate subject among historically disadvantaged students, both locally and internationally. Undergraduate numbers of black students mask the continued racialised profile where those who continue to professional levels in psychology remain skewed towards white and historically advantaged communities.
Compared to white students, the numbers of black students frequently dwindle significantly in postgraduate psychology training, and black psychologists continue to be under-represented among professional psychologists both nationally and globally. Similar challenges are experienced in South Africa with regard to achieving substantial increases in the numbers of black postgraduate students and psychologists. Given the large percentage Additionally, at least in the public sector, which saw a near doubling of the numbers of psychologists in resulting in public sector psychologists comprising Notwithstanding this continued context of skewed demographics, there has been little research directed at understanding the underlying discourses, inside and outside universities, that shape these disparities.
Four issues emerge in students' perceptions and reported experiences of the discipline. The first issue relates to the transferability of training to diverse contexts and students' own communities. Students also highlighted a related ambivalence about the effectiveness of psychological methods for most South Africans Cornell, and suggested that the curriculum is too theoretical and lacks a focus on practical and relevant experience in working with people Nair ; Cornell, Ruane's study foregrounds in particular the perception of the racialisation of the profession: participants constructed psychologists "as 'old white men', who were 'racist, unsympathetic, uncaring and unavailable to communities'", "elitist and 'too far removed from the community to be of assistance to black people'", preoccupied with "showing what they could do", neglecting to "take the time to develop a relationship with the client" and not knowing or understanding their clients' culture Ruane, A second issue relates to socio-economic concerns and perceptions of income in psychology.
For many Black psychology students, affording study costs and easing familial income burdens are primary concerns, so careers with shorter training periods such as social work or even law, may be viewed as more viable options than psychology cf. Sedumedi ; Mudhovozi, ; Cornell, On the other hand, the difficulty of affording student fees did not feature as a prominent concern for white students, but they were concerned about whether they would be able to earn a good income as a psychologist Cornell, Moreover, there was a perception among students that psychology careers that are engaged with social issues are particularly unviable in material terms Cornell, Another deterrent highlighted by students is "the high cost of consulting a clinical or counselling psychologist", making psychologists' services inaccessible Cornell, The third issue relates to entry requirements and the inverted pyramid structure of South African psychology career development.
Historically, in South African universities, psychology is a subject located in a Bachelor's Degree and students may major in it. It is only at the fourth-year, Honours level that students begin to specialise in psychology. At this level, the large classes of undergraduate psychology are reduced to far smaller classes. At the next level of selection for admission to professional master's degrees, a further thinning out takes place, with only a small group of between 6 to 12 students remaining.
Cornell found that departmental warnings of the competitiveness of entry into postgraduate training unintentionally deterred many Black students from applying. Finally, some studies show that psychology students find the course material and training challenging, both intellectually and emotionally, which may relate to unsupportive teaching and learning practices in psychology Sedumedi ; Mhambi, , but also to the lack of relevance to students' lived realities pointed out above. The requirement that students absorb large volumes of Eurocentric theory and unfamiliar epistemologies about human behaviour also poses difficulties in understanding and application of knowledge Nair, ; Mhambi, This contributes to feelings of inadequacy in relation to white students who seem to experience curricular inclusion and therefore engage more easily with the "theoretical jargon" Nair, As a result, the curriculum brings about social antagonisms between students.
Nair mentions how "[t]he theoretical content of the master's course, in particular, was experienced as a site of exclusion" 90 by students of colour, making case formulations difficult, and how "trainees felt hamstrung by for example their inability to operationalise psychodynamic theories taught" When a curriculum clearly functions in a way that primarily includes students who are already in positions of privilege, while further marginalising and blocking the identities of students who are not, then we need fundamental and far-reaching change to transform it from an instrument of oppression to a tool that can help to bring about equitable social relations between citizens.
Conclusion and recommendations. In spite of forty years of concerns about minimal demographic, curricular and other forms of inclusion in psychology for the majority of South Africans and considered efforts to redress this, current research suggests that some progress in inclusion is evident but that significant areas of exclusion still exist.
The development of trial questionnaire on social exclusion - Social Psychology and Society - /4
A range of factors, both material and discursive, may be reproducing exclusionary practices in South African psychology. These include an experience of a lack of contextual relevance and resonance of the curriculum to the social context of many students, socio-economic concerns and financial challenges, insecurity about selection in highly competitive postgraduate programmes, and the notion that the curriculum is difficult.
All of these factors re-inscribe, both implicitly and explicitly, the skewed demographics of the profession as well as its perceived elitism and collusion with power. What is evident from studies of student experiences of the psychology curriculum in South African higher education is that they are deeply concerned with the relevance of the discipline of psychology. Participants in most of these studies drew mostly on a cultural, racialised and, to some extent, gendered discourse to explain the inappropriateness of the curriculum, since this is the discourse that is socially available to contemporary South Africans.
Few authors in psychology consider the importance of curriculum as discourse which acts to reproduce larger power relations in a society Howarth, The social psychology of inclusion and exclusion. New York, Psychology Press.
Social Exclusion Context, Importance, and Evidence
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