Call for Papers: What's left worth fighting for? Critical psychological perspectives on subjects' resistance as social endeavor

Guest Editors: Andrea Kleeberg-Niepage, Johanna Degen, Jo Reichertz

Recent scientific discourses seem to predominantly problematise current conditions and developments and observe, for example, the worrying effects of (cumulative) crises and conflicts on mental health (increase in depression, anxiety), interpersonal relationships (alienation, loneliness), social structure (polarisation, precarisation) and work (zoom fatigue, techno-apocalyptic scenarios of robots taking care of people).

However, possible resistance strategies of people are often constructed as individualised, unquestioned adaptation strategies (resilience, mindfulness, stress reduction), while social determinants and dynamics seem to form an unchanging context. Thus, not only the gap between the subjects‘ experiences and perceptions and the social world in which they live is reproduced, but also the Western idea of the individual and his or her personal ability as the core of action and thus also as the driver for change.

It is precisely this gap and focus on the individual in academic psychology that have always been central in the work of critical psychologists, who take the experiences of subjects as a starting point to explore their relationship to their social world. From the inception of critical psychology, the aim has been to recognise these interactions and their destructive potential, and to point out possibilities for transformation and improvement. This has always been about social and societal changes and not only about changes in the mindset or behaviour of the subjects.

Against this background, in this special section, we want to focus on possibilities of overcoming social restrictions and (enforced) individualisation and thus also ask when, how and by what means people can experience their life as meaningful and worth living or even fighting for? Where are the potentials for resistance or resources for (mental) well-being, and how can these be created?

Suggested topics:

  • Developmental perspectives in terms of, e.g., personal growth and agency when changing ways of life and recommitting to values such as a slow or family-oriented lifestyle, reorganisation of family life or children’s education, fewer social obligations, rediscovering former relations or social cohesion, e.g., within neighbourhoods;
  • Work perspectives, e.g., continuing to work from home after Covid lockdown is over, refusing to continue online meetings, quitting a job, changing career, founding organised solutions for the occurring conditions of life, new ways of organising work, coping with new conditions of life;
  • Social and societal perspectives, e.g., of groups when overcoming restrictive societal conditions and dysfunctional socio-cultural traditions and organising, e.g., through community building, union formation, joining resistance groups or in political terms of national, regional, or cultural strategies (e.g., the struggle of marginalised groups for recognition, reparations, and participation); 
  • We explicitly welcome qualitative and exploratory methods and any further ideas/approaches related to the proposed topic of the special section. 

Any attempt at the topic is welcome, be it as an empirical investigation, a historical analysis, or as a theoretical discussion addressing the potential of critical-psychological approaches for a socio-culturally contextual understanding of subjects and social change in their interest.

We are aware that despite critical psychology’s strive for deconstructing their own theories, categories and methods and their claim to make psychology more subject-oriented – precisely a science in the interest of the subject – many of these impulses come from the Global North. Thus, specific epistemological assumptions might not have been overcome. Therefore, we especially invite contributions from a critical Global South perspective pointing at these possible shortcomings and introducing contrasting or complementing approaches.


Deadline abstracts (500 words + a short bio): May 31, 2023

Feedback and invitation to submit contributions: June 30, 2023

Deadline full paper submission: December 15, 2023

Results of the reviews: January 31, 2024

Deadline Resubmission: May 31, 2024

Final Decision: June 30, 2024

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