The Level 3 module Advancing social psychology (DD317) uses the concerns of contemporary social psychology as a lens for viewing people in their social context, and particularly the context of contemporary British society. As we look ahead to the new presentation of DD317, this week's blog by Stephanie Taylor draws connections between current news stories and some of the module content.
The Windrush scandal is about British citizens from Caribbean backgrounds, and some other parts of the world, who have been wrongly classified as illegal migrants, and in many cases deported. This distressing and disturbing situation has rightly received a lot of media attention. It points to how we understand citizenship, as not only a legal but also a moral and emotional issue. News stories emphasise the length of time that the people concerned have lived in Britain, the work they have done for British society, and in some cases the government, their family connections and their personal identification as British. All of these points relate to the DD317 topic of citizenship, and to new social psychological approaches which understand citizenship in terms of participation and other social practices.
#MeToo, and more allegations of sexual misconduct:
The twists and turns of the #MeToo story continue. This week they include, in the US, accusations by a young man against one of the first women to 'speak out', and in Scotland, a heated exchange of allegations and denials around the behaviour of a male politician. The #MeToo movement is part of the feminism embraced by a new generation of women. DD317 discusses feminism as an example of activism which challenges inequalities and power imbalances, and therefore has important parallels with other political movements and action against inequality (It is noticeable, for example, that there is now increased publicity for allegations of bullying, whoever these involve.) (Another DD317 topic is cyberbullying). The module also discusses gender, looking at new femininities and masculinities. Another focus is the limitations of considering inequalities in terms of one category only; alongside gender, we need to consider class, race, age... so how can this be managed in academic work?
School exam results:
In a news story that comes up every year, two of the points noted this time round were that in GCSE, boys have 'caught up' with girls, and at A-level, fewer students are studying 'modern European languages' like German. The first again raises gender issues. The second point prompts interesting questions about Britain's future connections to other countries (and of course the B-word, Brexit), and also about what qualifications are expected to be useful when today's school students become tomorrow's aspiring workers. DD317 considers what it means to live in a globalised world. It investigates work and employment, looking at the changing nature of work and the expectations that are likely to be faced by future workers.
And on a lighter note, the Great British Bake-Off:
This year's series continues the formula which lightens so many people's Tuesday evenings, with a few tweaks, like a vegan week. One interest for social psychology is in the programme as an example of 'banal nationalism' (a term from the work of Michael Billig, 1992). GBBO presents us with a positive image of our own society (Hint: the clues are in the words 'Great' and 'British'). There is, first, a wonderfully multicultural mix of people who bring into their cooking the range of food traditions that are firmly part of contemporary British eating. The contestants also represent a variety of social backgrounds and life roles (e.g. a stay-at-home dad) in order to illustrate the ideals of diversity and tolerance that also characterise contemporary British values (we hope). The programme is, however, a contest, celebrating competition. Tolerance stops at the point of judging and each week someone is a loser. They will be hugged before they leave, but they will have to go. Many critical psychologists argue that the 'neoliberal' image of society as a competition between individuals is too widely accepted. DD317 discusses the concept of neoliberalism, and the lone competitor as a model for the person, in life and also in a lot of psychology.
These are just a few of the possible connections (a future blog will look at more). DD317 students are invited to use their independent study time to follow up similar connections between the module content, their lives and the world 'out there', because as social psychological subjects we are not only part of that world but shaped by it. To learn more about DD317, you can look at the new Open Learn course course
DD317_1 Social psychology and politics: http://www.open.edu/openlearn/health-sports-psychology/social-psychology-and-politics/content-section-0