societal psychology: social psychology’s contribution to understanding and changing society

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Societal Psychology: Social Psychologys contribution to understanding and changing society. Saadi Lahlou Institute of Social Psychology London School of Economics and Political Science. The problem: real World issues. Changing a society, an endeavour that goes beyond psychology. - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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  • Societal Psychology:Social Psychologys contribution to understanding and changing society Saadi LahlouInstitute of Social PsychologyLondon School of Economics and Political Science

  • The problem: real World issuesChanging a society, an endeavour that goes beyond psychology.Needs understanding (rerum causas cognoscere):the determinants of individual behaviouraggregation issues (groups, masses)organizational issuescultureTo practice : innovation, conflict, structuration, decision-making, agency, negotiation.

  • outline1. Societal Psychology: principles and history (Prof. Gaskell)2. Homo Socius : group member by design3. WIT: culture as a distributed guidance system.

  • outline1. Societal Psychology: principles and history (Prof. Gaskell)2. Homo Socius : group member by design3. WIT: culture as a distributed guidance system.

  • Some (biased) landmarks of Societal Psychology1943: Lewin (changing food habits)1947: Simon (administrative behaviour)1961: Moscovici (diffusion of Psychoanalysis)1964 : ISP founded at LSE()1975 : Societal Psychology (Himmelweit et al.)2011-12: another promotion of ISP trained to change to World

  • Societal psychology 15 props (Himmelweit & Gaskell, 1975)Human beings need to be studied in a sociocultural context. The individual and the collective cannot be separated ontologically. Societal psychology requires a systems approach. And multilevel (micro/macro)

    The ecology of the environment, its objective characteristics, needs to be studied alongside its mediated realityMaintain a historical perspective. People create social organizationsbut it is the social organizations that recast peopleInnovation is as much an imperative of the social system as is conformity

    Theoretical and methodological pluralism. Cross-fertilization between StP social sciences is indispensable. Including streams of Psychology.And between basic and applied research. Adopt a wider range of research tools.Developing conceptual frameworks rather than search for invariant laws

    There is no such thing as value-free social research

  • outline1. Societal Psychology: principles and history (Prof. Gaskell)2. Homo Socius : group member by design3. WIT: culture as a distributed guidance system.

  • Biological bricks: Homo Socius and Homo Sapiens

    Humans are Cooperative, Competitive, Communicative, Educable, Instrumented

  • Homo SociusSmall teams (3 men in a boat)Groups (football)Families (gathering)Hords (demonstration)Nations (obama election)

  • *Henri Tajfels minimal group experiment (1970, 1971)

    "Us""Them"deal A54deal B68

  • Solomon Aschs conformity experiment (1951)Asch, S. E. (1956). Studies of independence and conformity: A minority of one against a unanimous majority. Psychological Monographs, 70 (Whole no. 416). Control : 1 participant out of 35 gave an incorrect answerExperiment : 75% of participants gave at least one incorrect answer

  • intra-group differenciation and coordination

  • *Stanley Milgrams obedience experiment (1961)

  • The Stanford Prison Experiment (Zimbardo et al., 1972)http://www.prisonexp.org/

  • *real world applicationsAdolf Eichmanns trial in Jerusalem, Dec. 11, 1961Nazi extermination camps

  • real world applications

  • Humans are socializedHumans are a mix of competition and cooperation > groups, hierarchyHumans communicate, learn, are instrumented > organisations, culture

    Individuals have membership (role/status) in specific groups/organisations/cultures. They feel and act as group members.

  • individuals tend to: - act as group organs, - behave according to given role- use the environment as storage/ external scaffolding

    positive : - individual well-being in groups- emulation, motivation- leverage of agency with labour division- cumulativity of creation

    negative :- superorganisms have their own conatus and dynamics- care little about individuals- inertiaTake-away part 1:humans are by design prone to assemble and create social super-organisms

  • From Nature to Culture

  • from Nature to Culture

  • outline1. Societal Psychology: principles and history (Prof. Gaskell)2. Homo Socius : group member by design3. WIT: culture as a distributed guidance system.

  • human colonies are now complex built environments with many artefacts

  • Installation

  • Installations

  • Installations

  • Societal control: the world as installationPhysical layer (objects) provide affordances

    2. Humans interpret objects and situations

    3. Institutions control

  • Social space:institutionsPhysical space:objectsMental space:representationsInstallation Theory

  • Physical space:objectsInstallation Theory

  • Affordances at physical levelJames J. Gibson (1904-1981) Davies, CA, 1978.Roughly, the affordances of things are what they furnish, for good or ill, that is what they afford the observer. () they are ecological, in the sense that they are properties of the environment relative to an animal. () Affordances do not cause behavior but constrain or control it. Needs control the perception of affordances (selective attention) and also initiate acts. An observer is not bombarded by stimuli. He extracts invariants from a flux of stimulation. [Gibson, 1967, passim]

    NB: Jacob Von Uexklls notion of connotation of activity (1952) is more philosophically solid because not tied into realism, but may be less usable for didactic/operational purposes.

  • *affordances

  • should I push or pull this door?Interpretation into action

  • Physical space:objectsMental space:representationsInstallation Theory

  • Social space:institutionsPhysical space:objectsMental space:representationsInstallation Theory

  • *Institutions in social space : rules and laws about hatsAttatrk 1925 : no fez

  • Social space:institutionsPhysical space:objectsMental space:representationsInstallation Theory

  • Social space:institutionsPhysical space:objectsMental space:representationsInstallation Theory

  • Social space:institutionsPhysical space:objectsMental space:representations3. installation theory(Lahlou, 2008)x

  • Take-away part 2Behaviour is simultaneously determined at 3 levels: material, psychological, social

    Understanding and changing the system needs to address the 3 levels

    Societal psychologys domain is the psychological level, but the overlaps with the 2 other levels

  • Societal psychology 15 props (Himmelweit & Gaskell, 1975)Human beings need to be studied in a sociocultural context. The individual and the collective cannot be separated ontologically. Societal psychology requires a systems approach. And multilevel (micro/macro)

    The ecology of the environment, its objective characteristics, needs to be studied alongside its mediated realityMaintain a historical perspective. People create social organizationsbut it is the social organizations that recast peopleInnovation is as much an imperative of the social system as is conformity

    Theoretical and methodological pluralism. Cross-fertilization between StP social sciences is indispensable. Including streams of Psychology.And between basic and applied research. Adopt a wider range of research tools.Developing conceptual frameworks rather than search for invariant laws

    There is no such thing as value-free social research

  • Some principlesThere is nothing so practical as a good theory (Kurt Lewin)The best way to understand a complex system is to try to change it (Kurt Lewin)If your photographs arent good enough, youre not close enough (Robert Capa)Need not hope to endeavour, need not succeed to persevere (William of Orange)

  • s.lahlou@lse.ac.ukthank you. discussion?

  • creation, improvement, conservation of artifacts(technology)education, daily practice guidanceEmbodied form of Rep.Reified formthe reproductive cycle of representations/objectsINSTITUTIONAL CONTROL

  • I love this Company !http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nc4MzqBFxZE

    I am happy to open this flagship series of Societal Psychology. As you know, ISP is the home of societal psychology. This first session has two objectives. The first is to familiarize you with the notion, and the second is to give you a brief overview of the courses program. This course is a spine to our teaching, and you will see most of ISP academics give a lecture in it. Professor George Gaskell, one of the historical founders of Societal Psychology, will give you his view on Societal psychology, so you get information from the mouth of the horse himself. I will provide you with a general framework to give you a better sense of where societal psychology stands in Psychology, and the larger endeavour of understanding and changing the world. This framework is installation theory. Hopefully well have some time for discussion.Then Dr Caroline Howarth will present you this years programme.

    *Societal psychology is interested in real world issues. Here at the ISP, we are interested in basic science, but also at how it can be used to make the world a better place. This means we have to address the issue of how to change society. As you may have noticed, societies are made of humans beings. Therefore, we should understand the determinants of individual behaviour. But societies are not made of isolated human beings, and therefore we should also understand the mechanisms of communication and interaction between humans. There are a series of emergent issues as individuals are aggregated within groups, and these should be taken into account as well. Then, obviously, gr