Psychology and Solutions to Social Problems
In his review of Toward a Socially Responsible Psychology for a Global Era, Jeffrey Rubin discusses the book authors’ beliefs that psychology has a role to play in identifying and developing solutions to the complex psychological, social, and economic causes of our global crises. Rubin notes,
[The book] usefully reminds readers that psychology needs to expand to include the world that shapes and affects all of us, including discriminatory social realities, structural barriers to services and justice, and systematic socioeconomic disparities and inequities.
The authors attempt to describe changes in theory, research, training, and practice that are required to contribute to a “globally conscious, socially responsible psychology”(p. 77). However, Rubin suggests that, although the book makes the case for a socially responsible psychology and the role it plays and can play in identification of the causes of global ills, the solutions and recommendations for change offered lack nuance and complexity. Rubin focuses on the neglect of emotions and unconscious processes that may contribute to a number of the negative influences in society—greed, overconsumption, and the refusal to engage in practices that ensure a more sustainable world. He suggests drawing on psychoanalytic understandings to overcome some of the limitations of the authors’ recommendations.
Although analytic understandings can be usefully integrated, is this enough to reach the stated goal of the book? What role does scholarship in content areas such as social, organizational, educational, and school psychology play in finding solutions to social inequity? Does the development of a socially responsible psychology require a disciplinary shift in methodology and focus in order to solve problems of crime and violence?
By Jeffrey Rubin
PsycCRITIQUES, 2014 Vol 59(8)