• Marianne Lundsby
4. term, Psychology, Master (Master Programme)
ABSTRACT
This study is a master thesis in psychology at Aalborg University. The founding question of the study addresses concerns about perspectives on exercising power in pedagogical adult-child relations.
The interest in this topic began as a speculation over the appreciative and anti-authoritarian styles of pedagogy and leading I meet in my everyday life. I was wondering if a direct and authoritarian exercise of power can have a justification in relation to child-upbringing and pedagogy.
The problem formulation of this master thesis sounds: Which perspectives can a humanistic psychology and a critical psychology contribute with in relations to exercising power in the pedagogical adult-child relation? And which consequences can these perspectives have?
The master thesis is built on the preunderstanding that exercise of power is a necessity in the pedagogical adult-child relation because the child is seen as physical and mentally dependent on the adult.
The problem formulation is answered through a qualitative and theoretical study. As the problem formulation point to, the study outlines both a humanistic approach to psychology and a critical approach to psychology. The humanistic approach outlined in this study, will focus on the work of Carl Rogers, specifically his book; Carl Rogers On Personal Power (1977). The outline of the critical approach to psychology takes a broader focus and involve various theoreticians of the critical psychology.
With inspiration from Brinkmann (2012) the two psychological approaches functions as tools through which it is possible to understand the subject of study in a new way. It is not the aim of this study is to investigate exercising power in the pedagogical adult-child relation as it is. Instead, the aim is to investigate the perspectives of humanistic and critical psychology on exercising power in the pedagogical adult-child relation and which consequences these perspectives may have.
The psychological approaches is used to understand different practice examples of exercising power in the pedagogical adult-children relation. These examples consists of various quotes from three different texts concerning pedagogical practice. The analyses suggests that when exercising power is understood through the eyes of humanistic psychology, it will almost always be understood as violation of the children’s inner potential which will disturb the evolvement to self-actualization. This means that exercising power in the pedagogical adult-child relation from a humanistic perspective is something that should be avoided as much as possible.
When the same examples is understood through a critical psychological perspective, the exercising power is merely understood as something that creates certain possibilities of participation and action for the children and the adults in the relation. This means that exercising power from this perspective are neither good nor bad.
The results of the study suggests that a humanistic perspective can lead to a fear of power in the adult-child relation and that this fear can lead to a hidden form of exercise of power. This hidden form of exercise of power can result in the power exercising not being recognized as such. This makes it difficult to reflect on, and discuss if this form of power is legitimate or abuse of power. Further the hidden form of power exercise means that the children has to evolve an ability to understand and detect the subtle and hidden messages of the adults. While it is difficult for the children to fight against this type of power exercise.
Perspectives of critical psychology can result in a more neutral understanding of exercising power. This kind of perspective can legitimize exercise of power and therefore it can become easier to reflect on and exercise power in a more direct and clear way. But the critical perspective cannot tell us which form of exercising power that should be preferred. The answer to this question must be answered elsewhere.
The conclusion of this master thesis stresses that it is important that the perspective from which exercising power in the pedagogical adult-child relation is considered, is a perspective that are not characterized by a general resistance against exercising power. Instead, a perspective that is more neutral and does not reject exercising power is preferred because this opens the possibility to relate to and reflect on the legitimacy of the exercising power. Furthermore, an exploration of which type of exercising power that is preferred is necessary. The two perspectives in this study cannot answer that question.
LanguageDanish
Publication date2015
Number of pages66
ID: 213099816