Maritza Montero & Marisela Montenegro
Critical Psychology in Venezuela
The production of psychology as a discipline area in Venezuela, as in other countries in Latin America, has frequently been influenced byhegemonic perspectives of scientific thought, coming from centres of production with more resources and considered as with more geo-political importance, such as the United States or Europe. However, in Venezuela, as well as in the region, beginning in the mid-70s of the last century a significant production of knowledge in the area of psychology and, specifically of social psychology has been generatedin response to the need to answer to specific phenomena and social problems of these contexts. In this sense, the critical aspect was generated out of concern about the relevance and social significance of the knowledge produced in both academia and professional practice, in relation to the life circumstances in these countries, as well as to the pertinence of psychosocial theories in use.
Acharacteristic of the Venezuelan and Latin American critical movement, in general, has been its not being strictly defined by the geographical limits of the nation. Instead, it has been developed through dialogue and collaboration with professionals and scholars from Latin America and other parts of the world. Therefore, summarizing the contributions of the production of knowledge within theso-called “critical psychology” limited to the geographic area of Venezuela has to take into account this dialogical condition, that would open areas of interest about what was being done elsewhere, while at the same time submitting the knowledge thus obtained to critique, to doubt, or to transformation. And as also happens in such circumstances, to many uncritical repetitions, until the lack ofecological validity would end such experiences.
In general, in the world in which we live it is difficult to think that critique should have a local aspect. Rather, it should be considered as an active dialogue between social groups, as has happened in Latin America. At the same time, critique is not a uniform practice and this is also evident both in Venezuela and the rest of Latin America. If critiqueis universal, it is also particular. And critically speaking, it would be necessary to revise the conceptualization of what is defined as universal and what is considered as particular, taken into account the homogenizing sense typically given to each of those ideas. On the other hand, there is such multiplicity of works, interests, and production centres that just to intent a classificationaccording to those two big categories would be a very difficult work, if not a useless one.
In this article, through an act of reduction and simplification of the task we have undertaken, we will first characterize what we understand critical psychology to be, departing mostly from the Latin American contributions to this area of psychology. Our objective is to generate criteria helping us tohighlight certain research and social intervention options. Then, we will offer a brief description of the areas of interest that have most strongly marked the production of “critical knowledge” in Venezuelan psychology: theoretical and epistemological reflections in critical psychology, community psychology and participatory action-research and social psychology of political processes. Finally, wewill describe what for us represent the main challenges currently faced by critical psychology in Venezuela.
Critical Psychology in Latin America
The developments that have made critical psychology possible in Venezuela and other Latin American countries have opened a wide range of theoretical and professional possibilities within psychology which question diverse aspects of the traditional...