The Place of a Positive Critique in Contemporary Critical Psychology


  • Morten Nissen University of Copenhagen



critique, marxism, subjectivity, collectivity, activity theory, ideology, foundation


The essay attempts to contextualize the German-Scandinavian tradition of Critical Psychology (GSCP) that bases on Cultural-Historical Activity Theory in today's critical psychologies. It is argued that adding to a psychology and ideology critique the positive dimension of ”foundational” theory is important to counteract the currently prevailing “negative” ideology of liberalism. It is also claimed that an ”instrumental” version of critical psychology, which takes up elements from psychology for tactical purposes will remain dependent on the given discipline of psychology and unable to reflect on its own subject position. GSCP is then rendered as developing the Marxist ontology of social practice (rather than its utopianism) toward a concept of a subjectivity constituted in social practice but with the criteria of action potency and productive needs on the part of the individual. It is suggested that this approach solves important problems in contemporary critical psychology. Finally, it is described how GSCP, too, might grow from the encounter, by developing a theory of collective subjectivity to include – us.




How to Cite

Nissen, M. (2009). The Place of a Positive Critique in Contemporary Critical Psychology. Outlines. Critical Practice Studies, 10(1), 49–66.