Incorporating Intersectionality Into Psychology: An Opportunity to Promote Social Justice and Equity

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Abstract

Intersectionality is receiving increasing attention in many fields, including psychology. This theory or framework has its roots in the work of Black feminist scholar-activists, and it focuses on interlocking systems of oppression and the need to work toward structural-level changes to promote social justice and equity. Thus, the current interest in intersectionality in psychology presents an opportunity to draw psychologists’ attention more to structural-level issues and to make social justice and equity more central agendas to the field. The large, ever-growing bodies of research demonstrating the wide-ranging adverse consequences of structural- and interpersonal-level oppression, inequality, and stigma for the health and well-being of many diverse groups of people support that these issues are central to the field of psychology. We as individual psychologists and the field as a whole can work to fully incorporate the insights of intersectionality and therefore contribute to making social justice and equity more central across the varied subfields and realms of our work. Specific ways that we can do this are to (a) engage and collaborate with communities, (b) address and critique societal structures, (c) work together/build coalitions, (d) attend to resistance in addition to resilience, and (e) teach social justice curricula. There are important examples both within and outside of psychology that can guide us in achieving these goals. These suggestions are meant to foster conversation and consideration by psychologists across all subfields and areas of focus.

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