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