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Liberation Social Psychology (la psicología social de la liberación, PSL) has developed amongst a body of psychologists in Latin America since the 1980s. The initiator was Ignacio Martín-Baró (one of the Jesuits murdered by the Salvadorian army in 1989 at University of Central America in San Salvador) and it was further developed by Maritza Montero, amongst others.
Within PSL, key concepts emerge, including '
- a social orientation,
- the preferential option for the oppressed majorities, and
- methodological eclecticism.
PSL can be considered in terms of three broad areas of work.
- First, it is suggested that community social psychology as practised in some parts of Latin America reflects PSL in its emphasis on social transformation and participatory methods.
- Second, psycho-social work with victims of state oppression, which adopts a highly social and societal orientation, embodies PSL.
- Third, social analyses which explicitly adopt socio-psychological-political analyses of the social realities confronting countries in Latin America embrace, in different ways, principles and concepts of PSL.
PSL offers an alternative to mainstream psychology, while still drawing on it. It seeks to screen out that which serves the interests of the powerful, for example by making socially created characteristics appear natural - this process has been termed de-ideologisation.
Martin-Baro, I. (1994). Writings for a Liberation Psychology (Edited by Adrianne Aron and Shawn Corne). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
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