UCT psychologist wins prestigious award

16 Aug 2014 - 12:15
Dr Wahbie Long

The Society for the History of Psychology (Division 26 of the American Psychological Association) has recently announced that the prize for Best Article in the 2013 volume of the journal History of Psychology has been awarded to Dr. Wahbie Long for his paper, "Rethinking ‘relevance’: South African psychology in context" (Vol 16(1), pp. 19-35).

A committee of distinguished historians – Nadine Weidman (chair), David Devonis, and John P. Jackson – reviewed all of the articles published in the journal in 2013 and unanimously concluded that Dr. Long's article was deserving of this award.


This award is accompanied by an invitation to present an address at the next meeting of the Society at the APA convention in Toronto in August, 2015.



Prize Citation:

“In this clearly written and theoretically sophisticated article, Wahbie Long historicizes and interrogates the demand for social and political ‘relevance’ in South African psychology. Long shows that from the 1960s onward, the critique that social psychology lacked ‘relevance’ in an era of political upheaval motivated the search for an ‘African’ perspective in psychology. Black South African psychology students, Long explains, felt acutely the conflict between the ‘foreign values of the discipline and the familiar ones of their communities of origin’ (28).  The demand for relevance eventuated in the creation of an indigenous psychology, comparable to other such movements in India and the Philippines. But, Long argues, in the case of South Africa, the ‘relevance’ critique, once a radical notion, has in the post-Apartheid period been caught up by the academy’s new emphasis on market behaviors and entrepreneurship. Now, coopted by capitalism toward hegemonic ends, the demand for ‘relevance’ in psychology actually stands in the way of progressive social change.

The prize committee agreed that Long’s article convincingly conveys the vicissitudes of an important episode in psychology's history in a volatile place and era, and supplies much new knowledge about the persons and political forces involved in that episode. The article adds much to our knowledge of psychology's role in a culture outside the United States and Western Europe, and makes a good case for this episode as an example ofthe ways in which international corporate pressuresshape indigenous psychology. For these reasons, in addition to its strong, consistent, and logical narrative, Wahbie Long’s ‘Rethinking Relevance’ is our unanimous choice for the Best Article Award.”