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Interdisciplinary Journal on Human Development, Culture and Education
Revista Interdisciplinar de Desenvolvimento Humano, Cultura e Educação

ISSN: 1533-6476

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Morss, John - Growing Critical:  Alternatives to Developmental Psychology 
London and New York: Routledge, 1996,  170 p. 

This book is a survey of Critical Psychology authors and authors from related areas, that have contributed to the critique of Developmental Psychology as a scientific discipline and as a specific social and ideological  practice or group of practices. "Human development is too important to be left to psychology", writes de author  in the preface. The issues related to Developmental Psychology are presented from the perspective of, among others, marxist or rather marxist related or marxist inspired, psychoanalytic, and social constructivist authors. 
The book may be useful as an introduction to the subject for those unfamiliar with the authors discussed, and with the   proposed alternatives to Developmental Psychology.  However, the author  employs what I call a "descriptive" approach,  rather than a more sustained analytical, explanatory or interpretative approach, in relation to the themes, the various authors and ideas presented, due perhaps to a choice toward inclusion of various "critical discourses", a choice of "extension" over "intension". The result is rather a "description" of the different authors'  critical ideas on the problems with  Developmental Psychology, namely: its blindness to the social and political  dimension of human realities, the naturalization of human processes, of  human relations and of the scientific practice that underlies the development of the study of human development itself. A subject, we  may say, too important perhaps to be treated in such an abbreviated, incomplete form. As one example we can point out the following brief "definition" of  the "anti-developmental" approach that  the author seems to  favor: "(Carl) Ratner emphasizes the wholly social nature of child and adult  'development'. In my terms his account is anti-developmental because changes in  activity are explained without reference to underlying, natural regularities." (page 80). It maybe that the author, malgre-soi, constructs here a basic unity of anti-developmental" perspectives ( be it a sort of "negative" unity) even when he explicitly recognizes the differences in critical approaches of the various critics he examines. Eclecticism appears to be in our time a common risk in the task of  identifying "counterhegemonic" currents. And with it we see here also the risk of creating a "counter-narrative" of sorts that may be not very far from the "Master-narratives" one opposes. 

Marcelo G. Lima  october 22. 2001

copyright (c) 2001, 2002  Centro de Estudos e Pesquisas Armando de Oliveira Souza CEPAOS 

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