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.


The English term "conscientization" is a translation of the Portuguese term "conscientização", which is also translated as "conscienceness raising" and "critical consciousness". The term was coined by Brazilian educator, activist, and theorist Paulo Freire in his 1970 work "Pedagogy of the Oppressed". Freire was teaching the poor and illiterate members of Brazilian society to read at a time when literacy was a requirement for suffrage and dictators ruled many South American countries.


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, and the fratricidal violence that results therefrom is a major goal of conscientization. Conscientization is a fundamental aspect of Freire's concept of popular education.

Arlene Goldbard, an author on the subject of community cultural development finds the concept of conscientization to be a foundation of community cultural development. From the glossary of Goldbard's 2006 book "New Creative Community.": "Conscientization is an ongoing process by which a learner moves toward critical consciousness. This process is the heart of liberatory education. It differs from "consciousness raising" in that the latter may involve transmission of preselected knowledge. Conscientization means breaking through prevailing mythologies to reach new levels of awareness—in particular, awareness of oppression, being an "object" of others’ will rather than a self-determining "subject." The process of conscientization involves identifying contradictions in experience through dialogue and becoming part of the process of changing the world." [ [ Creative Communication] "New Village Press".]


2. Aspiazu, Gary G. (1998). "Improving the academic performance of Hispanic youth: A community education model." Bilingual Research Journal, 22:2, 3, & 4, Spring, Summer, & Fall, 1998. Available at:

3. Freire, Paulo. Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New York: Continuum, 2007.

ee also

* Critical consciousness
* Critical pedagogy
* Popular education
* Teaching for social justice
* Adult literacy
* Adult education
* Praxis
* Praxis intervention
* Liberation psychology

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