Psychologies of not Knowing

On the (Re)Production of Oppression via Processes of not Knowing or Ignorance




Oppression, Privilege, Ignorance, Feminist epistemology, Critical race epistemology


Social and liberation movements all over the world have acted on the premise that oppression is kept alive, among other ways, through psychological mechanisms. Feminist and critical race epistemologies such as “feminist standpoint theories” and “epistemological ignorance” suggest that there might be different forms of not knowing involved depending on the social location of the (not) knowing subject. In this paper we suggest that the concrete psychological mechanisms involved in not knowing or outright ignorance differ according to one’s position in the social fabric of oppression and privilege. Drawing on various critical psychological and psychoanalytic reflections, as well as interpreting selected passages from a group discussion among elderly retirement home residents in Vienna, we illustrate how social position is translated into lack of knowledge about systems of oppression and privilege

Author Biographies

Nora Ruck, aculty of Psychology, Sigmund Freud Private University Vienna

Nora Ruck is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at the Sigmund Freud Private
University in Vienna, where she acts as Vice Dean of Research and head of the PhD program
and co-coordinates the master specialization social psychology and psychosocial practice.
Her research interests concern the relations between psychology and social inequalities as
well as social movements, the history of psychology, feminist epistemology, and critical
psychology. She currently directs the research project “The psychological is political. A
recent history of feminist psychology in Vienna, 1972-2000” (FWF P 31123-G29). She is
co-editor of “Psychologie & Gesellschaftskritik” and associate editor of “Review of General
Psychology”, “Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences”, “Social and Personality
Psychology Compass”, and “Awry – Journal of Critical Psychology”.

Katharina Hametner, Faculty of Psychology, Sigmund Freud Private University

Katharina Hametner is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Sigmund Freud Private
University Vienna where she is head of the master program in psychology as well as the
Institute for Qualitative Social Research and co-cordinates the master specialization in
social psychology. She wrote her PhD thesis on experiences of every-day racist practices in
the field of anti-Muslim discourses at the University of Vienna. Her research and teaching
expertise lies within the fields of social psychology, with special interests in racism and
migration, qualitative methods and philosophy of science. She is co-editor of the journal
“Psychologie und Gesellschaftskritik” (psychology and social criticism).

Alexandra Rutherford

Alexandra Rutherford is a Professor of Psychology at York University in Toronto in the Historical, Theoretical, and Critical Studies of Psychology graduate program. She studies the relationships between feminist psychology and society to understand how feminist science and practice can contribute to positive social change. She has examined the role of sexual assault surveys in mobilizing anti-violence activism and policy, and the influence of neoliberalism and postfeminism in shaping gendered discourses of agency and empowerment. She received the Association for Women in Psychology Distinguished Publication Award in 2012 for her co-edited volume "Handbook of International Feminisms: Perspectives on Psychology, Women, Culture, and Rights," and the Distinguished Member Award from the Section on Women and Psychology of the Canadian Psychological Association in 2011. She is the founder and director of the Psychology's Feminist Voices oral history and digital archive project.

Markus Brunner, Faculty of Psychology, Sigmund Freud Private University Vienna,

Markus Brunner is lecturer at the Sigmund Freud Private University in Vienna and cocoordinator of the Master Program “Social psychology and psychosocial practice” at SFU, co-founder of the Gesellschaft für psychoanalytische Sozialpsychologie ["Society for psychoanalytic social psychology"], and co-editor of the journals „Freie Assoziation. Zeitschrift für psychoanalytische Sozialpsychologie“ [Free Associations] and "Psychologie und Gesellschaftskritik" [Psychology and social critique]. He has written and published broadly on psychoanalysis and critical theory with a special focus on trauma theory, antisemitism, and the emotional legacies of Nazi Germany

Markus Wrbouschek, Faculty of Psychology, Sigmund Freud Private University Vienna,

Markus Wrbouschek is a Vienna-based psychologist who is currently teaching Qualitative Research Methods and Social Psychology at the Sigmund Freud University. He has been interested in reconstructive methodology and discourse analytic approaches in the social sciences and has participated in various qualitative research projects. His current research focus lies in the social psychological study of affective phenomena, such as moods, atmosphere, and ressentiment




How to Cite

Ruck, N., Hametner, K., Rutherford, A. ., Brunner, M., & Wrbouschek, M. (2021). Psychologies of not Knowing: On the (Re)Production of Oppression via Processes of not Knowing or Ignorance. International Review of Theoretical Psychologies, 1(2).