Sociopolitical Criticism: An Overview

Excerpt from: Searching for Meaning: An Introduction to Interpreting the N.T., edited by Paula Gooder, Westminster/John Knox/SPCK, pp. 160-162. 3 pp .

Sociopolitical criticism (also know as socioeconomic criticism or political readings) draws on the insights of Liberation criticism to explore oppression and the use of power and, unlike liberation criticism, it is often based in Europe and the U.S.A.

What are the key features of sociopolitical criticism?

During the 1970s Christian liberation theologies percolated throughout Latin America, Africa and Asia, as well as among the developing world struggling within First World countries. These theologies were:

  • grounded in practices of popular education among the poor pioneered by Paulo Freire;
  • generated out of contexts of violence, poverty and oppression;
  • often (though not always) aligned with social movements of revolutionary dissent (see Hennelly, 1990).

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