A number of scholars during the 1980s and early 1990s questioned the relevance of psychology
in South Africa. In this paper we characterise the nature of what became known as
the ‘relevance debate’, and then investigate whether South African psychology has become
more relevant during the nation’s first ten years of democracy. Themes which are identified
with respect to this issue include the apparent increasing representation of marginalised
groups within South African psychology, the conscious responsiveness of psychologists to
post-apartheid policy imperatives and issues, their alignment with international theoretical
trends, and finally, an increasing recognition of the political nature of South African psychology.
The authors conclude that a more productive approach within future debates regarding
relevance in psychology would be to examine the nature of knowledge production within
Published when Prof de la Rey was Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation), University of Cape Town.