THE MENTAL HEALTH OF IMMIGRANT WOMEN: TOWARD A NEW PERSPECTIVE (SOCIAL PROBLEMS THEORY)

KENISE MURPHY KILBRIDE, Fordham University

Abstract

This study is an attempt to make a modest contribution to the sociology of social problems. From the starting point of a concern for immigrant women, three perspectives derived from conservative and liberal sociological macro-theory proved inadequate to the task of regaining or retaining mental health. This inadequacy is attributable to their focus on the individual sources of stress, without regard to the ideological roots thereof.^ Radical theory at a macro-theoretical level seemed capable of an adequately penetrating analysis of underlying sources of social problems; two micro-theories derived from it, however, namely, value conflict and labeling theory, have proven inadequate for the larger questions of prevention and cure in this area. A review of empirical literature related to the topic demonstrated the need for further research, and reinforced thereby a need for an appropriate theoretical framework for such work, which is the main task of this paper.^ Jurgen Habermas was seen to be an excellent source of theoretical insight for the construction of a new perspective: his theoretical presuppositions of the innate freedom of the human person and of the inherently emancipatory nature of the social ("critical") sciences were seen to be most compatible with those of this paper. Moreover, the analytical concept of Aristotelian praxis which he develops is eminently compatible with the predisposition of this paper toward the engagement of people, in this case immigrant women, in the analysis and solution of their own problems, including that of mental illness.^ Habermas's contribution was supplemented by Groome's indication that hermeneutical praxis may also be emancipatory, and both types of praxis were seen to be employed by feminist writers for revealing ideologies oppressive of women. Paolo Freire's experience with conscientization demonstrated that emancipatory praxis is possible for all people, not just social scientists. Various types of clinical theory and practice were analyzed in the light of the six-fold typology, with a new liberationist perspective seen as most conducive, theoretically, to the mental health of immigrant women, and by extension, to the solution of social problems. ^

Subject Area

Women's studies|Individual & family studies

Recommended Citation

KILBRIDE, KENISE MURPHY, "THE MENTAL HEALTH OF IMMIGRANT WOMEN: TOWARD A NEW PERSPECTIVE (SOCIAL PROBLEMS THEORY)" (1984). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8506340.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI8506340

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