Skip to content

Toggle service links

You are here

  1. Home
  2. Dr Kesi Mahendran

Dr Kesi Mahendran

Profile summary

  • Central Academic Staff
  • Senior Lecturer in Social Psychology
  • Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences
  • School of Psychology
  • Psychology
  • kesi.mahendran

Professional biography

I am a social and political psychologist whose research seeks to support dialogue between publics and their governments on vexed political questions such as immigration, sovereignty, European and Global citizenship.  

Since I moved from the Scottish Government to the Open University in 2007, my work has increasingly aimed to foreground the social/relational features of areas that have become politicized.  I am particularly interested in the conditions and contexts where people act and express opinions in a 'public capacity' (Dewey). 

My starting point is that public decision-making on immigration, citizenship and the boundaries of belonging often inter-relate with an individual's own degree of mobility. Though this is rarely captured in public opinion surveys.  I attempt to capture this using a 10-point Migration-Mobility Continuum (Mahendran, 2013; 2017).

My 'Placing Ourselves' research programme works, collaboratively, towards de-polarising public opinion on immigration, integration, citizenship and belonging. The third phase is specifically focused on consensus and dissensus in public decision-making on international relations. This new phase will examine (i) public narratives on international relations (ii) the contexts and conditions within which people sustain dialogue with others who they may have strong disagreements with.  

I have a longstanding passion for teaching adults psychology having taught at Southwark College London, University of Stirling and University of Edinburgh.  Together with colleagues I have developed the DD801 Post-Graduate module which develops a set of principles of social and psychological inquiry. It provides an opportunity to understand the iterative cycles by which research is conceived, created and received by a variety of publics - including the general public, media and governments.

A chartered member and Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society, I am actively involved in the establishment of a Political Psychology Section which bridges BPS and PSA for academics and practitioners interested in connections between psychology and politics. I am also the convenor of the PSA Comparative European Politics specialist group alongside Gregg-Bucken-Knapp (University of Gothenburg). The photo banner above features PSA CEP members at dinner in Moscow on a suprisingly mild evening in November 2015.

Research interests

Research projects relate to:

  • Migration, Integration & Citizenship within European Union
  • Dialogical approaches to understanding the relationship between citizens and governments
  • From public opinion to public dialogue - via public narratives
  • Social psychological processes relating to self-other relations, categorisation and reification
  • Narratives of European & Global citizenship - including a one world narrative (OWN)
  • Comparative European approaches
  • Public narratives of Brexit and the parameters of UK-EU relations

 

A repository of research publications and other research outputs can be viewed at The Open University's Open Research Online.

Teaching interests

I am currently the Qualification Director for F74 the MSc Psychology and the chair of DD801 Principles of Social and Psychological Inquiry, the first module in the PG programme. 

Impact and engagement

Talks and Public Articles - linked to the right. 

 

The MMIIDA Network (MIGRATION, MULTICULTURALISM, INTEGRATION,IDENTITY DIALOGICAL APPROACHES) 

Established in November 2008, this non-hierarchical network brings together a multi-disciplinary group of academics, practitioners & researchers interested in developing dialogical approaches to migration, multiculturalism, integration and identity - beyond the common-sense binaries. Videos linked to the right. 

The network currently consists of 30 members across 21 institutions and ten different countries, Cyprus, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, Turkey, UK and the USA. If you would like to become a member please contact me.

Publications

Public narratives on human mobility: Countering technocratic and humanitarian refugee narratives with a "one-world" solidarity narrative (2017-03-13)
Mahendran, Kesi
Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology, 27(2) (pp. 147-157)
Public Narratives Of European Citizenship – The Dialogical Citizen In The European Public Sphere. (2015-09-10)
Mahendran, Kesi; Jackson, Ima and Kapoor, Anubhuti
In: Korkut, Umut; Mahendran, Kesi; Buckan-Knapp, Gregg and Cox, Robert Henry eds. Discursive Governance in Politics, Policy and the Public Sphere (pp. 147-162)
ISBN : 9781137495778 | Publisher : Palgrave Macmillan | Published : Basingstoke
Introduction: Discursive governance: operationalization and applications (2015-09-10)
Korkut, Umut; Mahendran, Kesi; Buckan-Knapp, Gregg and Cox, Robert Henry
In: Korkut, Umut; Mahendran, Kesi; Buckan-Knapp, Gregg and Cox, Robert Henry eds. Discursive Governance in Politics, Policy and the Public Sphere (pp. 1-11)
ISBN : 9781137495778 | Publisher : Palgrave Macmillan | Published : Basingstoke
“A two-way process of accommodation” Public perceptions of integration along the migration-mobility continuum (2013-07)
Mahendran, Kesi
In: Korkut, Umut; Bucken-Knapp, Greg; McGarry, Aidan; Hinnfors, Jonas and Drake, Helen eds. The Discourses and Politics of Migration in Europe. Europe in Transition (pp. 109-131)
ISBN : 9781137310897 | Publisher : Palgrave Macmillan | Published : New York
Introducing four psychologies of unemployment and their implications for intervention (2012-12-20)
Mahendran, Kesi
In: Kieselbach, Thomas and Mannila, Simo eds. Unemployment, Precarious Work and Health - Research and Policy Issues (pp. 53-71)
ISBN : 978-3-531-18509-5 | Publisher : VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften | Published : Germany
The transition of a Scottish Young Persons’s Centre — a dialogical analysis (2003)
Mahendran, Kesi
In: Grant, Colin B. ed. Rethinking Communicative Interaction: New Interdisciplinary Horizons. Pragmatics and Beyond New Series (pp. 235-256)
ISBN : 978 90 272 5358 3 | Publisher : John Benjamins | Published : Amsterdam/Philadelphia
Discursive Governance in Politics, Policy and the Public Sphere (2015-09-01)
Korkut, Umut; Mahendran, Kesi; Bucken-Knapp, Gregg and Cox, Robert Henry eds.
ISBN : 9781137495778 | Publisher : Palgrave Macmillan | Published : Basingstoke