To problematize (or problematise) is to propose problems.

Problematizing (or problematising) a term, writing, opinion, ideology, identity, or person is to consider the concrete or existential elements of those involved as challenges (problems) that invite the people involved to transform those situations. (Freire (1976) cited in Crotty (1998), p. 155-156)

Problematization (or problematisation) is a critical and pedagogical dialogue or process and may be considered demythicisation. Rather than taking the common knowledge (myth) of a situation for granted, problematization poses that knowledge as a problem, allowing new viewpoints, consciousness, reflection, hope, and action to emerge. (ibid)

What may make problematization different from other forms of criticism is its target, the context and details, rather than the pro or con of an argument. More importantly, this criticism does not take place within the original context or argument, but draws back from it, re-evaluates it, leading to action which changes the situation. Rather than accepting the situation, one emerges from it, abandoning a focalised viewpoint. (ibid)

To problematize a statement, for example, one asks simple questions:

  • Who is making this statement?
  • Who is s/he making it for?
  • Why is this statement being made here, now?
  • Whom does this statement benefit?
  • Whom does it harm?


  • Crotty, Michael J. (1998). Foundations of Social Research: Meaning and Perspective in the Research Process. SAGE Publications. ISBN 0-7619-6106-2. Describing Freire (1976). p. 155-156.
Search another word or see problematizeon Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2015, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature