Constructing Alternatives: Envisioning a Critical Psychology of Prefigurative Politics

Carlie D. Trott

Abstract


Psychological contributions to social movement scholarship have disproportionately concentrated on a "politics of demand", rather than on a "politics of the act", or prefigurative politics. Prefigurative actors, rather than making demands of power-holders, take direct action aimed at creating change in the ‘here and now’ by constructing alternative modes of being and interacting that reflect a given movement’s desired social transformations. Given that the prefigurative process takes place within and between individuals—with aims of changing the macrostructure by altering micro-relations—psychological perspectives are imperative to their understanding. Despite relevant theories and concepts, a psychology of prefiguration has yet to emerge. This theoretical discussion explores several reasons why prefigurative practices have been largely overlooked and at times misunderstood within mainstream social movement scholarship, traces the distinctive dimensions of prefiguration deserving of further (especially psychological) inquiry, and calls for methodological techniques both responsive to the context-driven nature of prefigurative praxis and consistent with the ‘bottom-up’ approach embodied within these unique spaces of resistance. After highlighting important points of disjuncture and possibility within the study of prefiguration, this discussion offers critical questions and methods aimed to envision and invigorate a critical psychology of prefigurative politics.

Keywords


activism; collective action; psychology; prefiguration; prefigurative politics; social movements

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https://doi.org/10.5964/jspp.v4i1.520

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Citations:

  • Magnus Boström, Erik Andersson, Monika Berg, Karin Gustafsson, Eva Gustavsson, Erik Hysing, Rolf Lidskog, Erik Löfmarck, Maria Ojala, Jan Olsson, Benedict Singleton, Sebastian Svenberg, Ylva Uggla, Johan Öhman (2018)
    Conditions for Transformative Learning for Sustainable Development: A Theoretical Review and Approach
    Sustainability, 10(12), p. 4479(ff.)
    https://doi.org/10.3390/su10124479
  • Carlie D. Trott (2019)
    Children’s constructive climate change engagement: Empowering awareness, agency, and action
    Environmental Education Research, p. 1(ff.)
    https://doi.org/10.1080/13504622.2019.1675594
  • Penelope Carroll, Octavia Calder-Dawe, Karen Witten, Lanuola Asiasiga (2019)
    A Prefigurative Politics of Play in Public Places: Children Claim Their Democratic Right to the City Through Play
    Space and Culture, 22(3), p. 294(ff.)
    https://doi.org/10.1177/1206331218797546
  • Jens Marquardt, Laurence L. Delina (2019)
    Reimagining energy futures: Contributions from community sustainable energy transitions in Thailand and the Philippines
    Energy Research & Social Science, 49, p. 91(ff.)
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.erss.2018.10.028
  • Daniel A. Chapman, Carlie D. Trott, Linda Silka, Brian Lickel, Susan Clayton (2018)
    Psychology and Climate Change, p. 267(ff.)
    https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-813130-5.00011-4
  • Carlie Trott, Andrea Weinberg, Laura Sample McMeeking (2018)
    Prefiguring Sustainability through Participatory Action Research Experiences for Undergraduates: Reflections and Recommendations for Student Development
    Sustainability, 10(9), p. 3332(ff.)
    https://doi.org/10.3390/su10093332
  • Carlie D. Trott, Laura B. Sample McMeeking, Andrea E. Weinberg (2019)
    Participatory action research experiences for undergraduates: forging critical connections through community engagement
    Studies in Higher Education, p. 1(ff.)
    https://doi.org/10.1080/03075079.2019.1602759
  • Sean Chabot, Diego Sebastian Crescentino (2018)
    La acción constructiva y la reivindicación de los communes como un mecanismo de descolonización de la resistencia no-violenta
    Relaciones Internacionales UAM(39), p. 19(ff.)
    https://doi.org/10.15366/relacionesinternacionales2018.39.002
  • Dan Swain (2019)
    Not Not but Not yet: Present and Future in Prefigurative Politics
    Political Studies, 67(1), p. 47(ff.)
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0032321717741233



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