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Article

Critical Theory: International Relations’ Engagement With the Frankfurt School and Marxism  

Faruk Yalvaç

Critical International Relations theory (CIRT) is not only an academic approach but also an emancipatory project committed to the formation of a more equal and just world. It seeks to explain the reasons why the realization of this goal is difficult to achieve. What is crucial is not only the social explanation, but also politically motivated action to achieve an alternative set of social relations based on justice and equality. Critical theory in International Relations (IR) is part of the post-positivist turn or the so-called “fourth debate,” which followed the inter-paradigm debate of the 1970s. The post-positivist period in IR consists of a plurality of theoretical and epistemological positions that opened up wide-ranging critique of the neorealist “orthodoxy” that has dominated the discipline since the beginning of the 1980s. Critical theory has challenged the mainstream understanding of IR, spurred the development of alternative forms of analysis and approaches, and emergedas the main alternative to mainstream IR. Two traditions of critical thought in IRtrace back to or are based on the views of Karl Marx. The first is the normative Critical Theory (CT) of the Frankfurt School. The second one is a structural critical tradition based on a critique and analysis of the political economy of capitalism. It is argued in the paper that the normative aspects of the critique of International Relations has to be integrated with the structural and historically specific critique of capitalism to make them politically relevant and adequate for a social critique of international relations.

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Critical Qualitative Research and Educational Policy  

Madeline Good and Sarah Diem

Critical qualitative research is full of possibilities and explorations that can assist in transforming systems for social change and the public good. It is an approach to research that at its core is concerned with the role of power; how it manifests in systems, structures, policies, and practice; and how contexts can contribute to and reify power and its deleterious effects. The use of critical qualitative methods and methodologies within the field of education has grown significantly since the 1990s. This is a large area of work that encompasses studies throughout the spectrum of educational topics, from early childhood learning to higher education and beyond. In the area of educational policy, while scholars use a multitude of critical qualitative methodologies and methods, critical policy analysis (CPA) has continued to grow in popularity. CPA provides opportunities for researchers to question policy in general––how it is formed, implemented, and evaluated, as well as its assumed impact. It is appealing because it gives space for scholars to not only critique educational policy issues but also offer new perspectives, approaches, and alternatives to the policy process. Critical inquiry, however, does not occur within a vacuum, so the dynamics of conducting critical qualitative research within a hyperpolarized sociopolitical context must also be considered. Contentious times make it increasingly important for critical qualitative scholars to (re)commit to the work of transforming education with the goal of creating a more just society. There are a multitude of hopes and opportunities for this burgeoning area of critical research, challenging us all to not only look toward creative approaches when studying issues of educational policy but also to persistently interrogate how our own positionalities and relations impact the work we do.

Article

Curriculum Studies, Critical Geography, and Critical Spatial Theory  

Robert Helfenbein and Gabriel Huddleston

During the late 20th and early 21st centuries, spatial terms have emerged and proliferated in academic circles, finding application in several disciplines extending beyond formal geography. Critical geography, a theoretical addition to the home discipline of geography as opposed to being a new discipline in itself, has seen application in many other disciplines, mostly represented by what is collectively called social theory (i.e., sociology, cultural studies, political science, and literature). The application of critical spatial theory to educational theory in general, and curriculum theorizing in particular, points to new trajectories for both critical geographers and curriculum theorists. The growth of these two formations have coincided with the changes in the curriculum studies field, especially as it relates to the Reconceptualization of that field during the 1970s. In terms of critical spatial theory especially, the exploration of how we conceptualize place and space differently has allowed curriculum studies scholars to think more expansively about education, schools, pedagogy, and curriculum. More specifically, it has allowed a more fluid understanding of how curriculum is formed and shaped over time by framing the spatial as something beyond a “taken-for-granted” fact of our lives. The combination of spatial theory and curriculum studies has produced a myriad of explorations to see how oppression works in everyday spaces. The hope inherent in this work is that if we can understand how space is (re)produced with inherent inequities, we can produce spaces, especially educative ones, that are more just and equitable.

Article

Intensifying Multicultural Education Through Critical Pedagogy, Antiracism, and the Need to Unschool  

John E. Petrovic and April Caddell

Multicultural education was born of racial and ethnic minority groups’ struggles to have their experiences, cultures, and ways of life recognized in dominant institutions. In schools, it means teaching the cultures, histories, values, and perspectives of different cultural groups, especially those of historically marginalized peoples. Since this approach can take perniciously shallow forms, educators have sought to incorporate the ideals of critical pedagogy and antiracism to inform a practice of “critical multicultural education.” Critical pedagogy rejects claims that knowledge is politically neutral and posits education and teaching as political acts. Informed by critical theory, critical pedagogy seeks to awaken students to the social, cultural, political, and economic milieu in which dominant forms of knowledge are constructed and through which power functions. A goal of critical pedagogy is for students to understand the way that injustice manifests and is reproduced and, ideally, to engage in praxis—critical reflection and action—toward societal transformation. Antiracist scholarship has sought to switch discussion of race and racism away from minority groups and, instead, to analyze white racism and whiteness as integral features of dominant institutions. It connects to critical theory in several ways, foremost of which is the position that racism was born of capitalist social relations. Like critical pedagogy, antiracist education seeks to understand, reveal, and counter structural forms of oppression. As such, antiracist education can be more widely presented as anti-Xist education, that is, antisexist, antiableist, antiheterosexist, and so on. In other words, the importance of antiracist education, as informed by critical race theory, lies not only in centering issues of race and racism. Black feminist scholars, for example, also point to the concern of the “intersectionality” of race, class, gender, and other sites of oppression. Lastly, unschooling also links to critical theory to the extent that traditional schooling represents and promotes the opposite of freedom and critical self-reflection. From a Marxian standpoint, unschooling understands the material reality of schools as manipulative, not convivial, and as reproductive of the status quo, not transformational. Compulsory, competitive schooling, according to this view, undermines learning and, instead, focuses on production, consumption, and spectation. Unschooling, instead, puts the power, responsibility, and, importantly, freedom for learning in the hands of the learner. Born of and informed by a number of different social movements (civil rights movements; women’s liberation, gay, and lesbian rights movements; indigenous rights movements; etc.), critical multicultural education, then, stands as multiculturalism plus both collective and individual empowerment for responsible, critical engagement against structural forms of oppression.

Article

Muñoz, José Esteban  

Iván A. Ramos

The late José Esteban Muñoz’s body of work provides readers and scholars of Latina/o literary scholarship a vast scope that centers the work of performance as the tactic minoritarian subjects engage against a racist and homophobic public sphere. Throughout his writings, Muñoz sought to reveal a trajectory for minoritarian subjects from the realization of difference through disidentification through the search for what he called a “brown commons.” His oeuvre bridges the divides between Latina/o and queer studies, and offers an expansive methodological approach for both fields.

Article

Biopower and International Relations  

Angélica Guerra-Barón

Michel Foucault’s critical approach to understanding power has become very influential in the study of global politics, especially in the work of (critical) IR scholars. The Foucauldian kind of power conception has influenced some IR scholars who adopt key insights from post-structuralist theory to world politics, thus producing an analytical orientation in the sense that all reality is structured first by language with discourses, then creating a coherent system of knowledge, objects, and subjects. Of particular importance is Foucault’s notion of biopower, biopolitics, and technology of power. Such a toolbox allows (critical) IR scholars to recur and distinguish disciplinary power, governmentality, its types (liberalism, neoliberalism), and biopolitics itself. However, few IR studies differentiate between biopower and biopolitics; yet an extensive variety of international studies issues are analyzed. Additionally, applying Foucault’s notions to global politics has been roundly criticized.

Article

Queer Pedagogy as an Impossible Profession  

Renée DePalma

Queer pedagogy can be considered a kind of critical pedagogy, which questions the neutrality of knowledge and renders teaching a political act. Drawing upon queer studies, it remains strategically poised on a series of important contradictions between constructing and deconstructing, defining and undoing. In the very impossibility of resolving such issues it challenges the basic premise of the institution of schooling—instead of providing clear and definitive answers to questions, it keeps them open. Its productivity lies in unsettling oppressive certainties. Can we both understand that bodies, by their very nature, exceed their discursive construction, and at the same time recognize people’s own identifications and the very real social and historical repressions they have experienced and continue to experience as a result of these? Discourse analysis in the field of education provides the potential for questioning the limits of discourse and the knowledge it creates, while creating spaces for recognition and the production of alternative understandings. Instead of simply replacing older knowledge regimes with newer (and supposedly better) ones—a traditional didactic approach—we might critically analyze how knowledge has been constructed and how people’s lived experiences challenge these constructions, and then begin to imagine a queer pedagogy based on this analysis.

Article

Environmental Policy and Foreign Policy  

John Barkdull

International agreements on environmental issues are the result of the coordination of states’ foreign policies. To understand the international politics of the environment requires attention to the institutional, social, economic, and cognitive factors that determine foreign policies. Although nearly every foreign policy bears on environmental concerns, the focus is on the policies that states adopt centered on humanity’s relationship to the natural world and ecology. Scholarship on environmental policy and foreign policy has not developed distinctive schools of thought. However, organizing scholarship according to a theoretically grounded typology reveals affinities among various scholarly works: systemic, societal, and state-centric approaches can be grouped according to whether they emphasize power, interests, or cognitive factors. Most studies of environmental foreign policy are oriented toward problem solving—identifying discrete problems in existing institutional arrangements and pointing toward solutions to these problems that do not question the institutions fundamentally. This orientation may not be adequate if crossing planetary boundaries leads to environmental challenges so severe that current institutions cannot cope. Climate change poses just such a challenge, and the rising concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere means a future crisis is predictable. Thus, scholars might be best advised to orient toward critical theory, which seeks feasible alternatives to existing arrangements. The study of foreign policy toward the environment would be most useful in helping scholars and policy makers to identify and surmount barriers to transformational changes that would enable humanity to cope with future environmental crisis.

Article

The Affective Turn in Educational Theory  

Michalinos Zembylas

The “affective turn” in the humanities and social sciences has developed some of the most innovative and productive theoretical ideas in recent years, bringing together psychoanalytically informed theories of subjectivity and subjection, theories of the body and embodiment, and political theories and critical analysis. Although there are clearly different approaches in the affective turn that range from psychoanalysis, poststructuralism, (post-)Deleuzian perspectives, theories of the body, and embodiment to affective politics, there is a substantial turn to the intersections of the social, cultural, and political with the psychic and the unconscious. The affective turn, then, marks a shift in thought in critical theory through an exploration of the complex interrelations of discursive practices, the human body, social and cultural forces, and individually experienced but historically situated affects and emotions. Work in this area has become known as “critical emotion studies” or “critical affect studies.” Just as in other disciplinary areas, there has been a huge surge of interest in education concerning the study of affect and emotion. Affect and emotion have appeared and reappeared in educational theory and practice over the past several decades through a variety of theoretical lenses. For psychologists working with theories of cognition, for example, the meaning of these terms is very different compared to that of a sociologist or philosopher using social or political theories of power. In general, psychologists investigate emotional states and their impact on the body and mind/cognition, whereas “affect” is a much broader term denoting modes of influence, movement, intensity, and change. Within these two meanings—a more psychologized notion focused on the “emotions” as these are usually understood and a more wider perspective on “affect” highlighting difference, process, and force—the affective turn in education expands our thinking and research by attempting to enrich our understanding of how teachers and students are moved, what inspires or pains them, how feelings and memories play into teaching and learning. The affective turn, then, is a particular and particularly focused set of ideas well worth considering, especially because it enables power critiques of various kinds. What the affective turn contributes to education and other disciplines is that it draws attention to the entanglement of affects and emotions with everyday life in new ways. More importantly, the affective turn creates important ethical, political, and pedagogical openings in educators’ efforts to make transformative interventions in educational spaces.

Article

Anti-oppression Education  

Tonya D. Callaghan, Jamie L. Anderson, Caitlin A. Campbell, and Nicole Richard

Throughout history, education systems have operated as a primary mode of socialization wherein students are invited to learn about the world around them by way of dominant narratives that define what is “normal” and “commonsense.” To that end, schooling bifurcates the “normal” from the “Other,” ascribing power to one and over the other. Both explicit and implicit curricula reinforce hegemonic ideologies and serve to reproduce social structures of power through racism, sexism, coloniality, homophobia, ableism, transphobia, and more. Despite the insistence of pedagogical and curricular neutrality, schools are places in which bodies and knowledge are perpetually regulated. As a result of the unequal power dynamic between teachers and students, educators regularly participate in the transmission of hegemonic ideologies and values in their practices. Anti-oppression education (AOE) refers to the mobilizing of pedagogy, curricula, and policymaking to work against the modes of oppression that operate within and outside of schools. Specifically, AOE is concerned with challenging the normalization of inequities at the nexus of race, sex, gender, ability, place of origin, et cetera. Drawing on critical theories, including queer theory, intersectional feminism, and critical race theory, AOE captures numerous pedagogical practices that attend to the social construction of knowledge and consider alternative ways of being, thinking, and doing. In that way, AOE not only seeks to disrupt the repetitions of discursive violence and the material inequities that result from systemic oppression but also aims to reimagine the purpose of schooling altogether as a means for transformation and liberation. Despite waves of political resistance in Canada and the United States that demonize AOE praxis as left-wing radicalism, there remains a need to further examine the role that anti-oppressive practices can play in transforming education systems and improving the well-being of students, staff, and school communities.

Article

Post-Critical Ethnography  

Allison Daniel Anders

Committed to research as an ethical and political practice, post-critical ethnographers work to center emic perspectives, local knowledges, and critiques in everyday languages in order to illuminate the exercise of power in the re/production of systemic inequities (e.g., economic, cultural, geographic, linguistic, political, racial, and social). Post-critical ethnographers underscore the importance of positionality and reflexivity in the practice of ethnography and pursue multiple, complicated understandings and complex representations, often experimental, in the writing and production of research. Informed by critical, interpretivist, and postmodern theories, post-critical ethnographers critique dominance, oppression, and inequity. In educational research, they choose schools, student, teacher, administrator experiences, and often local contexts to frame their research. Addressing both the particularities of experience and historical geopolitical contexts, post-critical ethnographers offer incisive analyses and ask their audiences to challenge systemic inequities and consider what could be otherwise in inequitable relations but is not yet.

Article

Slavoj Žižek and Communication Studies  

Robert McDonald

Slavoj Žižek stands as one of the most influential contemporary philosophical minds, stretching across a wide variety of fields: not just communication and critical/cultural studies, but critical theory, theology, film, popular culture, political theory, aesthetics, and continental theory. He has been the subject (and object) of several documentaries, become the source of a “human megaphone” during Occupy Wall Street, and become, while still living, the subject of his own academic journal (the International Journal of Žižek Studies). Žižek’s theoretical claim to fame, aside from his actual claim to fame as a minor “celebrity philosopher,” is that he weaves together innovative interpretations of G. W. F. Hegel, Karl Marx, and Jacques Lacan to comment on a variety of subjects, from quantum physics to Alfred Hitchcock films to CIA torture sites. While there are as many “Žižeks” as there are philosophical problem-spaces, Žižek proposes an essential unity within his project; in his work, the triad Hegel-Marx-Lacan holds together like a Brunnian link—each link in the chain is essential for his project to function. Further, his intentionally provocative work acts as a counterweight to what he views as the dominant trends of philosophy and political theory since the 1980s—postmodernism, anti-foundationalism, deconstruction, vitalism, ethics, and, more recently, speculative realism and object-oriented ontology.

Article

Overview in Critical and Cultural Organizational Communication  

Majia Nadesan

In 2009, one of the most powerful executives in the world, Goldman Sach’s CEO Lloyd Blankfein, asserted that his firm was “doing God’s work.” This comment was made in the wake of the worst financial crisis since the 1930s, a crisis that Goldman Sachs and other U.S. and European investment banks played important roles in creating. The comment’s audacity did not escape notice, raising eyebrows even in the mainstream news media given its historical situatedness at the tail end of the crisis. Although Blankfein’s comment was coded negatively in the cultural consciousness, it was also represented as iconic of the culture of Wall Street’s “Masters of the Universe,” as referred to in the popular vernacular. Blankfein’s comment is deployed to illustrate the conceptual models and methodologies of those fields of study known as critical and cultural organizational communication research. These closely coupled but distinct fields of study will be delimited with special attention to their objects of investigation and methodological deployments using this example. Cultural and critical organizational communication represent closely coupled fields of study defined primarily by their phenomena or objects of study—organizational communications. Scholarship maps and analyzes communications to understand how organizations are constituted through communications that decide organizational policies, programs, practices, and values. Typically, organizational communications include all formal and informal signifying systems produced by members of the particular organization under investigation. Cultural approaches to organizational communication emphasize how these communications produce meaning and experience, while critical approaches address the systemic and historically sedimented power relations that are inscribed and reproduced through organizational communication signifying systems. Organizational communication scholarship from a cultural approach would ordinarily seek to represent the organizational culture primarily using ethnographic methods aimed at disclosing an organization’s employee articulations, rituals, performances, and other circulations of symbol systems in the course of workaday life. However, the challenges to accessing Goldman Sach’s hallow grounds might defeat even the most intrepid ethnographer. Lacking direct access to the day-to-day practices and experiences of investment bankers, challenges of access to work-a-day spaces have encouraged researchers to adopt rhetorical and/or discourse analytical methods to understand the culture as represented in available cultural texts, such as internal communications, press announcements, available corporate policies, shareholder reports, and so on. Ethnographies of communication and rhetorical/discourse analysis together represent the primary nonfunctionalist methodologies commonly used to study how organizational meanings are produced, disseminated, and transformed. Across disciplines, organizational cultural analysis, particularly when pursued ethnographically, is typically rooted in an interpretive tradition known as verstehen, which understands meaning as agentively produced through a temporally emergent fusion of subjective horizons. Culture is therefore regarded as emergent and is believed to be actively constructed by its interlocutors, who are afforded great agency within the tradition of verstehen. The emergent aspects of culture are fertile and seed subcultures that produce novel cultural performances as members delineate symbolic boundaries. Power is regarded by this tradition as largely visible to the everyday interpretive gaze, although admittedly fixed in institutions by rules, roles, and norms. The relatively visible character of institutional power hierarchies is believed to beget open conflict when disagreement exists over the legitimacy of power relations. Power is believed to circulate visibly and is thus subject to re-negotiation. This emergent and negotiated social ontology encourages researchers to adopt a pluralist view of power and a more relativistic approach to evaluating the social implications of specific organizational cultures. However, the Blankfein example raises complex moral questions about organizational cultures. Does everyone at Goldman Sachs really think they are doing God’s work? If they do, what does that actually mean, and is it a good thing for society given the firm’s demonstrable appetite for risk? More deeply, what are the conditions of possibility for the CEO of one of the world’s most powerful organizations saying that his firm is pursuing God’s work? Critical organizational communication adopts the methods of verstehen, in addition to methods from other critical traditions, but interjects ethical interrogation of systemic inequities in access to power and resources that are found across many social institutions and are deeply embedded historically. For example, a critical scholar might interrogate whether Goldman Sach’s cultural exceptionalism is found across the financial sector’s elite organizations and then seek to explore the roots of this exceptionalism in historical event and power trajectories. The critical scholar might address the systemic effects of a risk-seeking culture that is rooted in the collective belief it is doing God’s work. Critical organizational communication research seeks to understand how organizational communications naturalize or reify particular organizational interests, elevating them above the interests of other stakeholders who are consequently denied equitable opportunities for agency. Cultural and critical organizational communication studies have prioritized various discourse-based methodologies over the last 20 or so years. The challenges with ethnographic access may have helped drive this shift, which has been decried by those who see discourse analysis as too disconnected from the daily performances and meaning-makings of organizational members. However, the primary challenge facing these fields of study is the one long recognized as the “container metaphor” (Smith & Turner, 1995). The study of organizational communication too often represents its field of study as a self-contained syntagm—a closed signifying system—that too narrowly delimits boundaries of investigation to communications produced in and by particular organizational members with less examination of the material and symbolic embeddedness of those organizational communications within a wider social milieu of networked systems and historically embedded social structures. In essence, organizational communication has struggled to embed its observations of discrete communications/practices within more encompassing and/or networked social systems and structures.

Article

Race, Gender, and Sexual Orientations in Curriculum  

Boni Wozolek

Curriculum studies is a field that addresses the sociopolitical, historical, and cultural norms and values that impact the classrooms and corridors of schools and their interrelated systems of schooling. Questions of curricula, the formal (what is meant to be taught), the null (what is not taught), the enacted (what is learned through interactions), and the hidden (what is learned through cultural norms) are significant to curriculum studies and are entangled with local and less local histories, politics, and cultures. Sociocultural precepts such as race, gender, and sexual orientation are therefore enmeshed with these forms of curriculum. The study of how race, gender, and sexual orientation are related is therefore at once historical and contemporary in its significance. To understand the relationship between these ideas is to follow lines from Title IX, the Meriam Report, the exclusion of certain terms from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, redlining, and other significant national policies and practices that impact schools and the curriculum. Finally, while it may be easy to falsely split questions of race from questions of gender or sexual orientation, an attention to how intersectional identities impact the curriculum becomes especially significant to disrupting colonial, sexist, racist, homophobic, and transphobic norms and values that often render the fe-male body as property of the cis-hetero patriarchy. Within these intersectional dialogues, curriculum studies scholars often find the important tools for dismantling and discussing normalized marginalization in schools and across systems of schooling as they touch and are touched by local and less local communities.

Article

Sara Ahmed’s Critical Phenomenology of Communication  

Rachel Stonecipher

Sara Ahmed is a feminist philosopher specializing in how the cultural politics of language use and discourse mediate social and embodied encounters with difference. She has published field-shaping contributions to queer and feminist theory, critical race and postcolonial theory, affect and emotion studies, and phenomenology. Since the publication of Differences that Matter: Feminist Theory and Postmodernism in 1998, her work has epitomized the value of contemporary feminist cultural studies to speak to and against the masculinist traditions of continental philosophy. Unequivocally inserting feminist politics into the rarified air of academic theory, it crosses the sexist boundary which corrals feminist thought into the category of “studies” while opposing it to male-authored philosophy—the latter automatically authorized to speak on the social and material “Real.” In doing so, her work sits squarely within discourse-analytical traditions that seek to expose how various epistemic scenes – activism, the media, and academia, to name a few -- sediment false authority on such issues as happiness, utility, and the good. Moreover, in contesting New Materialism’s search for some monist “matter” beneath experience, she traces how those linguistic moves impose insidiously singular concepts of what social “reality” is, and how it unfolds, for real people. As a field, communication studies concerns itself centrally with matters of social influence, scale, and power, such as the electoral effects of political speech, or the ability of a message to morph as it reaches new audiences. Turning a critical eye upon the (re)production of cultural norms and social structure through interpersonal and institutional encounters, Ahmed’s oeuvre explores the discursive logics and speech acts that sediment or transform the social meanings of race, gender, and other differences.

Article

Political Philosophy and Nationalism  

Ruhtan Yalçıner

Theoretical debates for a better definition of nationalism have played a key role in understanding the core issues of history, sociology, and political sciences. Classical modernist theories of nationalism mainly synthesized former sociological and historical approaches with a political science perspective. Within the classical modernist perspective, the necessity and importance of transformation from traditional culture and society to a horizontal one in the agenda of modernization was characterized as a universal consequence of industrialization. Some of the foremost complexities and problems involved in the classical and contemporary studies of nation and nationalism include the logic of dualization; the definition of nationalism with reference to its substantive and paradigmatic nature; and whether it is possible to concretely construct a universal theory of nationalism. Both classical and contemporary theories of nations and nationalism can be postulated with reference to two major theoretical sides. Universalist theories of nations and nationalism focus on the categorical structure of nationalism in conceptual grounds while being associated with (neo)positivistic methodological points of departure. On the other hand, particularist theories of nationalism underline the immanent characteristics of nations and nationalism by going through nominalism and relativism in methodological grounds. Considering the conceptual, epistemological, and theoretical contributions of “postclassical approach to nationalism” in the 1990s, three major contributions in contemporary nationalism studies can be marked: the increasing research on gender, sexuality, and feminist social theory; the framework of “new social theory” or “critical social theory”; and the discussions derived from political philosophy and normative political theory.

Article

Difference, Intersectionality, and Organizing  

Jamie McDonald

In organizational scholarship, difference is broadly conceptualized as the ways in which individuals differ from each other along the lines of socially significant identities and characteristics. As such, difference encompasses social identities related to gender, race, class, sexuality, ability, and national origin. In addition to social identities, difference also encompasses individual characteristics, such as education level, family type, and health conditions. Organizational scholarship increasingly considers difference to be a constitutive feature of organizing. As such, difference is not merely one aspect of organizing that is only relevant in some circumstances, but a defining feature of organizing processes to which it is always important to attend because dominant discourses and value systems privilege certain differences over others. Central to difference scholarship is the concept of intersectionality, which holds that various identities intersect with each other to shape social and organizational experiences in ways that are intertwined with privilege and/or disadvantage. Scholarship on difference, intersectionality, and organizing has drawn from multiple critical theoretical frameworks, such as critical race theory, standpoint feminism, postmodern feminism, queer theory, and postcolonial theory. A growing amount of scholarship on difference, intersectionality, and organizing is also empirical and sheds light on how overlapping, intersectional identities matter in organizational settings and how they are embedded in power relations.

Article

Rhetoric and Critical Affect Theory  

Marnie Ritchie

Critical affect theory continues to hold promise for rhetorical theory and criticism. This article revisits the so-called affective turn in rhetoric and addresses subsequent critiques of the idea of a turn. Accounting for scholarship published since 2010, this article then groups critical affect work into six subareas of research in rhetorical studies: feminist, queer, trans, and crip affects; race and affect; Black women’s affective labor; affective publics and counterpublics; new materialism, materiality, and affect; and affective economics. This article outlines affective methodologies in rhetorical studies and highlights the affective dimensions of “theories of the flesh” in rhetorical inquiry. It ends by considering what is critical about affect theory in rhetoric.

Article

Psychoanalysis and Critical Theory  

Gordana Jovanović

The relationship between psychoanalysis and Critical Theory (the Frankfurt School), contrary to dominant interpretations, is examined from a sociocultural perspective. Psychoanalysis addressed the sociopolitical issues of its time, including cultural shifts, war, and the cultural conditio humana in general. Beyond that, and more importantly, it is argued that the core psychoanalytic concepts, including drive itself, can be understood as a structure open to social co-construction. Such an interpretation of psychoanalysis can provide a link to Critical Theory of society. First, both sociopolitical and theoretical conditions in the 1920s and 1930s merit analysis under which members of the Frankfurt Institute for Social Research referred to Freud’s psychoanalysis. A theory was needed that would examine a missing point in Marxist interpretations, which the Institute adopted as its political and theoretical framework. What was missing was a place for subjective mediating factors, especially important among which were those generated by drives and those that operated unconsciously. The views on psychoanalysis and its role in the first generation of Critical Theory are analyzed, particularly the views of Horkheimer, Adorno, Fromm, and, most extensively, Marcuse, given the fact that Freud’s psychoanalysis had a central role in his thought. Finally, questions regarding the contemporary relevance of psychoanalysis and Critical Theory under new sociocultural conditions in the 21st century are raised.

Article

Intersectionality and the History of Psychology  

Alexandra Rutherford and Tal Davidson

As a conceptual and analytic framework, intersectionality has informed, and can transform, how scholars approach psychology and its history. Intersectionality provides a framework for examining how multiple social categories combine in systems characterized by both oppression and privilege to affect the experiences of those occupying the intersections of these social categories. The concept has its origins in the writings of Black feminists and critical race theorists in the 1970s and 1980s. Since that time, many critical debates about the definition, uses, and even misuses of intersectionality have been put forward by scholars in many fields. In psychology, the uptake of intersectionality as a methodological and epistemological framework has been undertaken largely by feminist psychologists. In this context, intersectionality has been used as both a logic for designing research, and as a perspective from which to critique the perpetuation of intersectional oppression latent in mainstream psychological research. In addition, intersectionality has also been applied to writing histories of psychology that attend to the operation of multiple intersecting forms of oppression and privilege. For example, historians of psychology have taken up intersectionality as a way to approach the intersections of scientific racism, sexism, and heterocentrism in the history of psychology’s concepts and theories. Intersectionality also has the potential for generating a more sophisticated historical understanding of social activism by psychologists. Finally, given that extant histories of psychology focusing on the American context have rendered the contributions of women of color largely invisible, intersectional analysis can serve to re-instantiate and foreground their experiences and contributions.