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Page history last edited by PBworks 13 years, 11 months ago



According to Adams and Goldbarb (n.d.), “Freire’s concept of “Conscientization”

(from the Portuguese conscientização).... describes the process by which

one moves from 'magic thinking' toward 'critical consciousness,' breaking

down imposed mythologies in order to reach new levels of awareness through

dialogue, thus becoming part of the process of changing the world.”


“Conscientization refers to a type of learning which is focused on perceiving and exposing social and political contradictions. Conscientization also includes taking action against oppressive elements in one's life as part of that learning…. Conscientization proceeds through the identification of "generative themes", which Freire identifies as "iconic representations that have a powerful emotional impact in the daily lives of learners." In this way, individual consciousness helps end the "culture of silence" in which the socially dispossessed internalize the negative images of themselves created and propagated by the oppressor in situations of extreme poverty. Liberating learners from this mimicry of the powerful...is a major goal of conscientization.”


In Freire’s formulation, the practice of emancipatory education for conscientization involves “coding” and decoding representations of participants’ situations in sketches, photos or dramas. Viewing and discussing the art allows students to identify constituent elements and patterns in their own situation. Freire opposes this approach to one which would value the analysis of experts who stand outside a problem and observe it, developing solutions. In Freire’s approach, the people involved develop solutions in critical consciousness of their environment, culture and history as understood and expressed by the community.


Doré (1997)writes, “Conscientization requires a recognition of the structural contradictions that one bears, whether as a result of social class, gender, ethnic group, age, sexual orientation, health, marital status, religion, or any other identity parameter in which oppression can grow. This is a prerequisite for the creation of an open and nonpaternalistic alliance between oppressed people and community organizers.”


The Life Mapping Project is a Salt Spring Island research project influenced by these ideas.


Conscientization is a key element of Community Cultural Development.


Recently, Freire’s approach has been critiqued by third-world educators and environmentalists. Bowers (2005) describes Freire’s approach as one that may be inappropriate in a world where the ecological imperative is so evident and pressing. It encodes Western assumptions “that change is constant and the surest sign of progress, that individuals should be emancipated from cultural traditions, and that this is a human-centred world….” Compare, for example, a community development practice that aims to preserve cultural traditions, resist change, and advocate for a future in which whole living world – including rocks, water, and other species – is understood as invested with soul and breath: First Nations Environmental Network.


In Bowers and Apffel-Marglin (2005), Siddartha suggests that Freire’s approach tends to produce opposition and a struggle for power within the existing system, rather than a radical transformation of that system. Transformations, he writes, proceed from Dialogue, not dialectic.




Adams, D. and A. Goldbard. (n.d.) Creative Community: The Art of Cultural Development, http://www.rockfound.org/Library/CC_and_G_Chapter_1.pdf - retrieved Nov 1, 2006 (but not found November 16, 2006).


Anonymous. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conscientization. November 16, 2006.


Bowers, C. and F. Apffel-Marglin. (2005). Re-thinking Freire: Globalization and the Environmental Crisis. Mahwah, N.J: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Electronic Version


Doré, G. (1997). “Case Study,” in Campfens, H. (ed.). 1997. Community Development around the World. Toronto: University of Roronto Press. p. 93-110.

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