arcp1-hayes-156-160.doc - Annual Review of Critical Psychology Copyright © 1999 Discourse Unit Vol 1 pp 156-160(ISSN 1464-0538 REVIEW ESSAY Marxism and

arcp1-hayes-156-160.doc - Annual Review of Critical...

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Annual Review of Critical Psychology Copyright © 1999 Discourse Unit Vol. 1, pp. 156-160 (ISSN: 1464-0538) REVIEW ESSAY Marxism and psychology: in the tracks of dialectical thinking Grahame Hayes Homer, S. (1998) Fredric Jameson: Marxism, Hermeneutics, Postmodernism. Cambridge: Polity Press. 216 + vii pp. (isbn: 0 7456 1686 0 (pbk); 0 7456 1685 2 (hbk)) Being on the `critical list` these days seems to be another way of saying that one`s work is (somewhat) influenced by Marxist thought. These associations with Marxism are not necessarily affirmative as much critical theory is at pains to indicate its distance , or separateness from Marxism. The notion of `critical` denotes a theoretical link with the history of critical theory within the Marxist tradition. In much critical work these days there is a selective borrowing of concepts from critical theory, while at the same engaging with non-Marxist thought (see for example, Morrow, 1994; Calhoun, 1995). The rationale for this `opening-up` of critical theory is at least two- fold. Firstly, social and material conditions have changed and hence different notions are required to grasp the complexities of social life. Secondly, with Marxism`s `discrediting` following the collapse of the totalitarian regimes of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, the way is now open for different theories of the social. Should critical psychology follow a similar route to that of critical social theory which has spread out from critical theory`s origins in the Frankfurt School of the 1920s, and encompasses work as diverse as Giddens and Habermas on the one hand, and Baudrillard and Foucault on the other hand? A cursory glance at critical psychology shows that what it includes under the rubric `critical` is broader than that conceived by most critical social theory (see the edited collection Critical psychology by Fox and Prilleltensky, 1997). Furthermore, even in its Marxist and radical versions, critical psychology seems little influenced by the tradition of critical theory (see the edited collection Psychology and society by Parker and Spears, 1996). The challenge arising out of this state of affairs is that a critical psychology is still in the process of being formed. How does an emerging critical psychology understand what it means to be critical ? Is critical to be understood in a Marxist sense, or in terms of the Frankfurt School`s notion, or in the diverse range of meanings attributed to critical within current critical social theory? And what is the relationship between critical psychology and a Marxist psychology? Homer doesn`t specifically discuss critical theory in relation to Jameson`s thought, as Jameson in some ways represents a more traditional version of Marxism. Homer notes that the `declining influence of Marxism within European radical and critical theory cannot be accounted for intrinsically, therefore, in terms of the history of ideas, but must be seen in the context of politics and society at large.` (p. 5) And Jameson`s concern, throughout his work, has been to re-assert a traditional Marxist 156
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understanding of contemporary culture. Homer points out that Jameson has achieved
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