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We see the social and the psychological as entangled processes that produce each other and are ultimately inseparable.

About the programme

We are in the social world, and the social world is in us. Our research gives equal emphasis to both dimensions. In so doing, it opens up unexpected ways of thinking about human nature and social life, shedding new light on a range of intellectual and practical problems.

Our psychosocial approach is dynamic (attends to processes), contextual (attends to relationships) and transdisciplinary (cuts across disciplines). We are interested in the psychosocial dynamics of human meaning-making and we understand human conduct and experience as something that is played out (meaningfully enacted) in social settings. This means that psychological issues can not be abstracted from their social conditions and practices, but equally, they are not to be reduced to the social. We map out the ways in which human meaning-making and conduct is patterned by social, cultural, historical, and material resources and factors and we study the micro-dynamics through which situated contexts are ongoingly reshaped through communicative exchanges. We are particularly interested in how psychological issues and experiences are put into words that are part of broader discursive practices, including practices of power and governance. But we are also interested in the dimensions of feeling, emotion and affectivity that can escape words, and transform social practice. Our work tends to be open and participative in nature and we are attentive to relations of power and inequality.

This makes for a diverse set of topics and methodological approaches that delivers work of real value and direct relevance to the lived reality of people in communities, families, and practitioners. Dr David Kaposi discusses the work of Psychosocial with Programme Director Professor Paul Stenner, in the following video.

The issues we address in our research are wide ranging. They include: sexualities and intimate relationships, individual and collective identities, citizenship and otherness, affects and emotions, memories and remembrances, feminist praxis, the subjective side of conflict, unravelling paradoxes in health and welfare practices, and the interrelation between racialised/gendered subjectivity and material and policy object.

Examples of current research projects include:

  • Segregation, conflict and the dynamic enactment of intergroup processes (see for example here)
  • Liminal experiences in situations of social and personal transition (see for example here)
  • Contemporary life-work moralities (see here and there)
  • discursive approaches to memory in historical contexts (holocaust) and in relation to trauma and witnessing (see here)
  • Multiple understandings of complex health issues like management of ADHD and chronic lower back pain (see here and there)

The programme has strong international links. We host, co-host or are closely involved with a number of leading journals, such as the European Journal of Women’s Studies, Feminism and Psychology, Journal of Visual Culture, Psychoanalysis, Culture and Society, Psychology & Sexuality, Studies in the Maternal.

 And we are actively involved in a range of national and international research networks, including: the Association for Psychosocial Studies, the International Society for Theoretical Psychology, the International Process Network, the Association for the Psychoanalysis of Culture and Society, Critical Sexology, and the International Research Group for Psycho-Societal Analysis.


See our highlights below for recent information about the programme.


Programme Directors

Stephanie Taylor and Paul Stenner

Research highlights

Methods in Motion Blog 1: Elizabeth Silva introduces Methods in Motion

Methods in Motion logo
23 September 2016

Methods are ways of knowing, and they are always changing. Academics have recently become highly methodologically creative, inventing a swathe of new practical ways of knowing about social life. Yet we at CCIG would argue that researchers must go beyond meeting the intensified demand for new methods. Methods are important because what we know is changed by how we know it. Furthermore, the reasons why someone uses a particular method are linked to their wider ends and means; what makes useful knowledge in that specific field.

Narratives of ADHD: women’s narrative accounts of living with ADHD

The Narratives of ADHD project is funded by a British Academy / Leverhulme Small Grant award. It is a one-year project that began in April 2015. It is lead by Lindsey O’Dell from the Faculty of Health and Social Care (OU), with Paul Stenner (CCIG, and School of Psychology, OU) and Mary Horton-Salway (formerly Psychology, OU) as co-applicants and Alison Davies as the lead researcher.

Divide and rule, unite and resist

Divide and rule, unite and resist is a field study in Pietermartizburg, South Africa funded by the British Academy.

The project is led by John Dixon (Professor of Social Psychology, The Open University, CCIG member) and Kevin Durrheim (Department of Psychology, University of KwaZulu-Natal) and is also being partly funded by the National Research Foundation of South Africa.

Understanding the Self-management of Chronic Low Back Pain

Self-management is a core feature of contemporary forms of governance and it is central to current health strategy around chronic low back pain. Its concept and meaning for those involved, however, need to be better understood if it is to be successful. CCIG’s Professor Paul Stenner is currently working on developing new solutions and methods for meeting the challenges of chronic low back pain.