Power and action in critical theory across disciplines: Implications for critical community psychology

Heather Davidson, Scot Evans, Cynthia Ganote, Jorie Henrickson, Lynette Jacobs-Priebe, Diana L. Jones, Isaac Prilleltensky, Manuel Riemer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Although critical scholarship and community psychology share similar aspirations, the links between them remain unexplored and under-theorized. In this article we explore the implications of critical scholarship in various specialties for the field of community psychology. To understand the contributions of critical scholarship to a theory of power and action for social change, we conducted a systematic analysis of a ten-year period of publications in seven journals associated with the critical scholarship tradition. We created precise criteria for the concepts of power and action and applied them to the publications. Results indicate an interesting paradox at play. Whereas community psychology is more action oriented than critical scholarship, its actions fall short of challenging institutionalized power structures and the status quo; and whereas critical scholarship is more challenging of the status quo than community psychology in theory, it has failed to produce viable actions that challenge the status quo. We discuss the implications of this state of affairs for the development of a more critical community psychology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)35-49
Number of pages15
JournalAmerican Journal of Community Psychology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Sep 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Action
  • Critical scholarship
  • Discourse
  • Interdisciplinary collaborations
  • Power

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychology(all)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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