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Becoming psychologists in Ecuador: a critical ethnography of trainees' professional identity

Capella Palacios, Manuel Andrés; (2019) Becoming psychologists in Ecuador: a critical ethnography of trainees' professional identity. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This thesis is an ethnography of the way psychologists construct their professional identities during their training in a State-funded Ecuadorian University, approached from the perspective of Critical Psychology. Considering the field´s theoretical bias, critical psychologists have called for qualitative data that contribute to ongoing discussions. Responsive to such call, this thesis asked the question: “How do psychologists in contemporary Ecuador construct their professional identity?” The author conducted a twelve-month critical ethnography, focusing on a particular training facility as a strategic site; from there, the inquiry extended to so-called “vulnerable” and “marginal” places, where trainees performed their preprofesional and professional roles. Findings highlight how the negotiation of professional identity is a “messy”, subject-dependent and context-dependent process shaped by power. Trainees dwelled between the coloniality of hegemonic psychology, and a – mostly veiled - cultural resistance to it. They embodied a “dual belonging”, being members of “professional” and “popular” worlds simultaneously. Trainees learned a “help-as-war” metaphor: utilising foreign theories and methods to help allegedly ignorant and in-deficit subjects, even if this implied disrespecting their culture and needs. To unpack the local professional – popular interactions which shape – and are shaped by - professional identity, the author suggests the working category of “liminal exchanges”, which integrates classic Freirean conceptualisations with relevant anthropological insights regarding gift giving. Findings stress the need to construct a more critical psychology training, one which acknowledges the “messiness” of professional identity and responds more congruently to the culture and needs of the people. This would require in-group and intergroup processes of conscientización; reinforcing our commitment with social justice while avoiding unfruitful purism; accepting enabling contradictions; and articulating the fight for structural transformations with small-scale performative changes. The ethnographic evidence presented in the thesis has significant implications for ongoing debates within Critical Psychology and related fields, at a local and global scale.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Becoming psychologists in Ecuador: a critical ethnography of trainees' professional identity
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2019. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
Keywords: professional identity, professional culture, psychology training, ethnography, critical psychology, liberation psychology, community psychology, critical pedagogy, Higher Education, Global South, Latin America, Ecuador
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10082374
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