What you will study
The module discusses social psychology's insights into life and people in a contemporary globalised world. It explores the new developments and interdisciplinary boundaries of social psychology today. The study programme is divided into an introduction, five main blocks and a conclusion, with additional weeks for review and revision.
The first block, Social psychology for a contemporary society, asks: How are we changed by our changing world? What can social psychology tell us about life today, and contemporary people? What do social psychologists contribute to discussions of ‘big issues’, like globalisation, new media and surveillance technologies, mobility and migration, political change and economic crises? The block also considers the power of psychology itself, looking at ways that psychological knowledge has impacted on our daily lives. The areas of social psychology covered in this block include:
- critical social psychology
- critical social research
- social psychology linked to theories of the subject.
The second block, New encounters across cultures in a globalised world, explores the relationships between individuals and cultures in modern diverse societies. Looking at the encounters between people in a world of increased mobility, the block asks: What happens when different cultures meet? What are the potential barriers? Can intercultural dialogue be achieved? You will study how new encounters can lead to both conflicts and positive cultural mixing. The block also asks: What are the politics of identity and difference in today’s mobile society? The approaches covered include:
- sociocultural psychology
- social representations theory.
The third block, Social psychology and participation: understanding and effecting change, looks at how people ‘get involved’ as members of society or citizens. It studies the ways that they join together to produce social change. These include everyday actions, such as voting, as well as more extreme forms of political action, for example, in contexts of conflict and uprising. The block asks: What drives people to join large scale protest movements? And how is their participation affected by social media? The block also investigates how social psychology itself has contributed to social action and change. The approaches covered include:
- political psychology
- liberation psychology
- the social identity approach
The fourth block, A contemporary subject, centres on the idea that the person studied by psychologists is socially produced. This again raises questions about similarity and difference, and how free we are to choose who we want to be. The block asks how huge recent changes in work and employment have impacted on our lives and identities, comparing the ‘good’ workers of today with workers of the past. It discusses gender, looking at research on ‘new’ femininities and masculinities in contemporary society. It discusses happiness and suggests that the goal of being happy is more complicated than it appears! The approaches covered include:
- social constructionism
- critical discursive psychology
- 'a psychology of the second order'
- positive psychology.
The fifth block, Threats and fears, centres on one of the most famous areas of psychology, the theories of psychodynamics and psychoanalysis which originated in the work of Sigmund Freud. The block considers these not in relation to therapeutic practice but for their application to society more generally. It offers psychoanalytic re-interpretations of classic psychological topics like bystander behaviour. You will read accounts of ongoing conflicts (like Israel-Palestine) and explanations of people’s fears and responses to contemporary threats. The areas covered include:
- psychosocial studies.
This module delivers this content through blended tuition including online material and two textbooks. Assessment is through assignments and an exam. You will read the module's own textbook chapters and other published material. You will watch videos and listen to interviews with leading international scholars, do online activities and participate in forums. You will develop your academic and communication skills. You will also spend time working independently, for example, to search for more information about the areas of social psychology that you find especially interesting.
You will learn
From studying this module you will learn about:
- continuing developments in key theories and approaches in social psychology
- applications of social psychological knowledge to contemporary socio-political issues in global societies
- new social psychological and interdisciplinary research.
This module will be of value to psychologists and other social scientists seeking to expand their knowledge of contemporary social psychology theory and research. The module will also be of value to students wishing to develop their understanding of recent academic work on 21st century social issues. The module will develop key employability and life skills of critical reading, writing, giving feedback, and setting and following independent study goals. It will also develop the academic skills required for further postgraduate studies and/or research in psychology and cognate disciplines.