oa Litnet Akademies : 'n Joernaal vir die Geesteswetenskappe, Natuurwetenskappe, Regte en Godsdienswetenskappe - 'n Menswetenskap in onmenslike tye : Dreyer Kruger en die fenomenologiese sielkunde in Suid-Afrika, 1976-1990

Volume 5, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1995-5928



A human science in inhuman times : Dreyer Kruger and phenomenological psychology in South Africa, 1976-90This article discusses the development of phenomenological psychology in South Africa from the mid-1970s to 1990, with specific reference to the pioneering work done by Dreyer Kruger and his contemporaries at Rhodes University. It focuses specifically on the limitations of this approach as a critical psychology during this period - that is, as a psychology that could meaningfully engage the distortion of human subjectivity, experience and relationships brought on by apartheid and racial-capitalist policies, practices and structures. The point of departure is Kruger's formulation of phenomenological psychology as not just an epistemological critique of positivism, but also a form of societal and political critique. It is argued that the eventual discrepancy between Kruger's critical vision and what passed in practice as phenomenological psychology by him and his contemporaries cannot simply be attributed to their inability to express Kruger's critical vision in practice. The failure of phenomenological psychology to shape a critical psychology reveals limitations that are inherent to phenomenological psychology. Through a reading based on Bourdieu's concepts of habitus, field and distinction, phenomenological psychology is presented here as having been overly committed to an epistemology that treated knowledge production as a detached, neutral and transparent practice, consequently upholding a particular class habitus, that of a middle-class, white South African reality, as normative.

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