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Researching the problems of listening, hearing and voice

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The Culture and Social Psychology group (CuSP) in the OU’s School of Psychology and Counselling spearheads a distinctive and innovative approach to the psychological as materially embodied, culturally mediated, and embedded in social practices. CuSP's focus is on social and cultural psychological research into emergent and liminal cultural and political issues. CuSP research is providing new empirical insight into processes of gendered and political subjectivity, the navigation of boundaries (e.g. identities of place, gender, sexuality), emotional dynamics and affective relationships (including group conflicts), contemporary governance through self (work, media, migration) and the power dynamics and phenomenology of health concerns, including real-world applications and impacts. In addition, a number of members are internationally recognised for their methodological expertise and innovation.

A recent CuSP meeting discussed two new pieces of writing by group members. Each output centres, in rather different ways, on problems connected to listening, hearing and voice.

Dr Lisa Lazard presented a chapter on The Sexual Harassment of Hollywood Men, to be part of her new book Predator and Prey? Sexual Harassment, Psychology and Feminism under Neoliberalism. The chapter discusses a recent development in the #MeToo movement, the publicising of men’s accounts of sexual victimisation. The chapter discusses the significance of these different voices, of victims who are male, not female. Will hearing their accounts force people in our predominantly heterosexual culture to reconsider established ideas? Will there be an erosion of an old binary by which men are positioned as active and women as passive or constrained? Dr Lazard argues that the vulnerabilities and power relations involved are more complex.

You can read more about Dr Lazard’s research on her webpage http://fass.open.ac.uk/people/lml279  

Dr Johanna Motzkau presented a new article on her research into why child victims of sexual exploitation are so frequently not heard, even when they speak out. The article, by Johanna Motzkau and Nick Lee, is titled Cultures of listening: psychology, resonance, justice. It reviews social and psychological theories which consider how communication is shaped by power relations that determine who will be listened to, and heard. This is, of course, particularly relevant to child protection, including the many horrific cases in which the victims of organised groups of abusers had repeatedly asked for help but, somehow, not been heard. The paper argues that the necessary response is not to blame the professional front line workers involved but to challenge the cultures in which they must operate. We need to develop different, more open listening practices to be receptive to what has previously, too often, gone unheard.

You can read more about Dr Motzkau’s work on her webpage http://fass.open.ac.uk/people/jfm238

You can learn more about the Culture and Social Psychology collaboration, CuSP, on this webpage http://fass.open.ac.uk/research/groups/cusp  which also contains details of some future events.

 


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