Sociopolitical Development as an Antidote for Oppression—Theory and Action
Although psychology has an ample vocabulary for describing individual pathologies, the development of theory and concepts for understanding societal pathology remains in its infancy. Because community psychology theory views human behavior in its context, it is essential that interventions not be limited to stress management, personal coping, and similar programming. Interventions should not leave social injustice undiscussed and unchallenged. In this spirit we present a theory of oppression and sociopolitical development that informs an intervention with young, African American men in an urban setting. The five-stage theory highlights the role of Freire's notion of "critical consciousness," a sociopolitical version of critical thinking, in enhancing an awareness of sociopolitical as well as personal forces that influence behavior. The theory also draws on African American social-change traditions and their spiritual aspects. The action section of the study describes the Young Warriors program's use of mass culture (rap videos and film) as stimuli for the development of critical consciousness. Highlights from an empirical investigation of an eight-session high school version of the program will be presented to illustrate the practical challenges and benefits of sociopolitical interventions.