Inaugural lecture: Prof. Jacqueline Akhurst
Venue: Eden Grove Blue Lecture Theatre
Date: Wednesday 2 August 2017
Title: Community Psychology: Hopeless optimism or hopeful future?
Community psychology evolved in South Africa in response to the human rights abuses of the apartheid regime with the seeming collusion of organised psychology; and to offer interventions to those affected by inhumane treatment. Alternative models of psychological theorising and practice were proposed to promote conflict resolution and more collaborative social activism, to benefit a greater number of people. Community psychology thus appeared to have a bright future to contribute to the accessibility to and transformation of psychological practice post 1994. Most psychologists trained since then will have studied a module in community psychology, distinguishing South African training from western models.
This lecture will explore its promise, through giving illustrated examples of the application of community psychology principles and models in practice. It will also reflect on the forces that have constrained its wider influence in the neoliberal global context of the provision of health and social care. It will critique some of the current structures and propose ways in which ideas and the evidence base in psychology might have wider applications, not only for the amelioration of distress, but to contribute to greater societal transformation.