Since founding the Radical Psychology Network last August in Toronto, we've grown slowly but steadily to 58 members. Our newest members come from Germany, Puerto Rico, Canada, and the U.S. Welcome!
After nine months, perhaps it's time to ask ourselves a question:
Who are we?
Since the diversity of interests expressed in Toronto has increased along with our numbers, it's become increasingly difficult to give a quick answer to the question of identity.
Many of us also have some dificulty defining our own individual analysis of psychology's role in modern society. Among our members are a fair number of people who are not sure "radical" is the right word to describe their views, but who are sympathetic none the less. Why? Is there hidden support for radical goals among psychology's liberals?
The usual time pressures and competing demands keep many of us from using the Network to best advantage. What does being a member mean beyond reading the Newsletter and perhaps passing it on to a friend?
Please--let us know what you're up to! When we bump into members at conferences or elsewhere, we get good feedback about the Newsletter. But it would be great to hear from the rest of you, too. What would you like to see us do more of? We need your input! (See Page 4 for a list of possible Newsletter topics.)
What would you like to work on with us beyond the Newsletter?
And--unfortunately--we also may need your money. Newsletter photcopying and mailing to more and more members and potential members may force us to ask for (voluntary?) donations of $5 a year or so. Does that seem reasonable?
And what about getting together to talk? If we scheduled a small conference in the fall, would you attend?
Isaac Prilleltensky was asked to write a short article describing the RadPsyNet for the Spring issue of the History and Philosophy of Psychology Bulletin.
Great! Any volunteers for an outreach committee?
It is very interesting for me to hear about a Radical Psychology Network in North America.
The German history of radical psychology is a little bit sad: there were at least three radical psychological movements starting in the late sixties: (a) critical psychology referring to critical theory (Adorno, Horkheimer ...); (b) Critical psychology applying so called Marxism-Leninism and Soviet psychology; (c) various forms of Freudomarxist approaches. Feminist and postmodern psychologies developed later and lack an institutional base. Yet, the influence of external conditions on theory development and practice became very obvious and after German unification the crisis of the left led to odd developments in the radical psychologies (I cannot report here). To summarize: critical psychologies that had large support by students, their own conferences, journals, etc. have became speechless.
In your newsletter of December 1993 you ask about reading material. I would recommend the following books:
Tolman, C.W. & Maiers, W. (Eds.) (1991). Critical psychology. Contributions to an historical science of the subject. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Broughton, J. M. (Ed.) (1987). Critical theories of psychological development. New York: Plenum Press.
Furthermore, I think that Habermas' books are important for all radical psychologists.
If anyone planning to go to Los Angeles for the APA convention wants to do a little RadPsy organizing, let us know and we'll send you copies of the Newsletter and other material to distribute. If enough people are interested, we can arrange a time to meet.
Maritza Montero in Venezuela and Isaac Prilleltensky in Canada are organizing a RadPsyNet meeting at the Congress of the International Society of Political Behavior in Spain. Maritza writes of "a dozen more psychologists from Latin America, and some from Spain, who share the views presented by the Network." Good luck in spreading the word!
Some of us made it to the American Psychology-Law Society convention in Santa Fe. Besides the obvious attraction of Mexican food everywhere in the oldest European city in the US, Santa Fe seemed a city of sharp contrasts and puzzling juxtapositions. It was particularly ironic to join throngs of tourists buying jewelry from a long row of Native craftspersons, who sat facing the monument "to the heroes who have fallen in the various battles with [word removed: savage perhaps?] Indians."
At the Santa Fe AP-LS convention, there was a bit of grumbling about AP-LS policies on accepting papers. Coincidentally, a discussion of a related topic began shortly afterwards on the AP-LS electronic mail discussion list, to which I added this comment:
"The current thread on acceptance policies of psychology journals has moved quickly from the question of delays to the question of editorial and reviewer biases about controversial article content. This is related to an issue I raised at the AP-LS business meeting in Santa Fe.
"AP-LS has developed a reputation for rejecting conference submissions that are `unusual' in one way or another. At every AP-LS and APA convention I have been to in recent years, I've heard comments about seeing `the same topics' over and over again. I've heard from members of AP-LS who no longer submit papers to AP-LS because of the perception that the division is not open to innovative topics or formats.
"I admit my own perception is colored by the rejection of a symposium I had proposed for Santa Fe, though I have occasionally had material rejected in the past without feeling there was something wrong with the procedures used. In this case the explanation eventually came that since the reviews ranged from `extremely acceptable' to `barely acceptable,' the average was too low to accept. This explanation of acceptance procedure was also given at the Santa Fe business meeting. (After the meeting, I was also told that conference discussion sessions generally attract fewer people than data-presentation sessions, and that the organizers had to schedule whatever would make the majority happiest.)
"Merely averaging the comments of different reviewers is not an adequate way to decide on papers. Majority rule has its place in certain kind of decision making, but surely editors and conference organizers have a responsibility that goes beyond mechanically averaging reviewer comments. Material that is controversial will by its very nature attract its share of negative reviews. Organizers and editors should take that into account in an effort to provide an intellectually stimulating program."
This comment and others elicited a lengthy response by Stephen Hart, one of the organizers for next summer's AP-LS program at APA. Hart acknowledged flaws in the review process but generally defended it as allowing the "survival of the fittest ideas." (If you'd like a copy of his full response, I can mail or e-mail it.)
What are your experiences submitting papers and reviewing the work of others? How do different divisions vary?
Do you think the effort to present radical views in APA is worth it? Or does "success" mean jumping through so many hoops and removing so much political content from our work that it might as well not be done? What is the alternative?
Oh--SPSSI rejected our RadPsy APA symposium proposal, in part because "Responses received from three reviewers expressed concern about the absence of case studies or other research which might have given more `credibility' to the symposium" and "these abstracts are too long on rhetoric."
Maybe so. Reminds me of trying to get my dissertation committee to accept a nonquantitative dissertation.
Nancy Norvell, an active member of RadPsyNet and author of the column in the last issue about working as a radio talk show host, died in February. She was killed when a small plane she was piloting crashed in Florida.
I never met Nancy. But we became good "e-mail buddies," as she put it, when she discovered the Network. She wrote about a variety of topics, ranging from ideas for a symposium proposal to plans she was making with her husband, Tim Boaz. For the several months of our correpondence, her energy, her sense of humor, and her determination to make a difference were apparent. I looked forward to her mai, and I will miss her.
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