African Psychology: The Psychological Adjustment of African Women Living in New Zealand

  • Adesayo Adelowo Manukau Institute of Technology
Keywords: social representation, African immigrants, African psychology, decolonised psychology


Social representation theory is a social psychological framework of concepts and ideas relevant to

studying psychosocial phenomena in modern societies. It suggests that social psychological

phenomenon and processes can only be properly understood when they are anchored in history,

culture and macro social conditions. Therefore, social representations are carriers of collective

memories of social groups which are adequate for shaping the present through the past; while

using the past to meet the demands of the present, which enables social groups to continue through

time. Social groups are distinct in terms of their understanding of social phenomenon and other

forms of action which in turn constitute their identity. In this article, I present an African

psychological framework which represents African people’s worldview. Further to this, is my

experience as a doctoral student, exploring the psychological adjustment of African women living

in New Zealand. I reflect on why the framework that I had used in my research were deemed

inadequate to be used as psychological principles, because they did not correspond with a Western

lens of understanding behaviour, actions and social reality. I conclude that the outcome of my

study shows the reification and legitimization of Western psychology over African psychology.

This article provides a possibility for a critical account of unequal social relations between

Western psychology and Indigenous psychology, and exposes the issue of power and resistance

embedded in the heart of social representation theories as it relates to psychology.

Author Biography

Adesayo Adelowo, Manukau Institute of Technology

Dr ADESAYO ADELOWO is a senior lecturer of Social Work at the Faculty of Social Sciences

and Education, Manukau Institute of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand. Adesayo's areas of

interest cover migrants' adjustment, spirituality, African narrative methods, indigenous theories

and methodologies, as well as African psychology. She is married with kids and lives in

Auckland, New Zealand.