Posts By / brichards

BU hosts APS Biennial Conference

For colleagues who may be interested in offering a paper to the Association for Psychosocial Studies Conference to be held here in April 2018, here’s a reminder of the Call for Papers.

Association for Psychosocial Studies Biennial Conference

Bournemouth University, 5th-7th April 2018

‘Psychosocial Reflections on a Half Century of Cultural Revolution’

Fifty years after the hippie counterculture of 1967 (‘the summer of love’) and the political turbulence of 1968 (‘May 68’), this conference will stage a psychosocial examination of the ways in which today’s world is shaped by the forces symbolised by those two moments. It will explore the continuing influence of the deep social, cultural and political changes in the West, which crystallised in the events of these two years. The cultural forces and the political movements of that time aimed to change the world, and did so, though not in the ways that many of their participants expected. Their complex, multivalent legacy of ‘liberation’ is still developing and profoundly shapes the globalising world today, in the contests between what is called neo-liberalism, resurgent fundamentalisms, environmentalism, individualism, nationalisms, and the proliferation of identity politics.
A counter-cultural and identity-based ethos now dominates much of consumer culture, and is reflected in the recent development of some populist and protest politics. A libertarian critique of politics, once at the far margins, now informs popular attitudes towards many aspects of democratic governance; revolutionary critiques have become mainstream clichés. Hedonic themes suffuse everyday life, while self-reflection and emotional literacy have also become prominent values, linked to more positive orientations towards human diversity and the international community.
We invite psychosocial analyses of the development and legacy today of the ‘revolutions’ of the ‘Sixties’. While some will be historical studies, papers need not have an explicit focus on that decade as such, but could approach the conference theme through explorations of contemporary issues in politics, culture and artistic expression. The meanings today, for those born since that decade, of the icons and values characterising its ‘revolutions’, are another guide to its impact. All proposals for papers, panels and workshops must indicate how they address psychosocial dimensions of their topic.

Send your abstract of 250-300 words to:
Deadline: 30 September 2017. Confirmation of acceptance: 1st November.
Topics could include:

• What happened to hate in the Summer of Love?
• Lennon vs Lenin: did 1967 and 1968 announce two divergent trends in contemporary culture – and what has happened since to the psychosocial forces they expressed?
• What are the meanings of ‘liberation’ today?
• New inequalities in post-industrial societies
• The resurgence of religion
• The Six Day War, intifadas, and intractability
• The planetary environment: fantasies and politics
• Trajectories of feminism
• The changing nature of ageing
• ‘The personal is political’ and other rhetoric in historical context
• Free minds and free markets
• The ethics of freedom: for example, where now for freedom of speech?
• From the Manson Family to the Islamic State
• Pop music’s global conquest and musical hybridity
• Changes in artistic practice, creativity and commodification
• The transformation of media
• The digitisation of everything
• Higher education: democratisation and marketisation
• The potential and limitations of theories of narcissism as a major tool for understanding late modern/post-modern cultures
• New narcissisms in the twenty-first century
• Therapeutic culture and its critics
• Where are they now? Biographical narratives of the revolutionaries
• States of mind in pivotal moments: San Francisco 67, Paris 68, and since
• The sense of entitlement: narcissism or social justice?
• The decline of deference and its consequences
• The hatred of government and authority
• The sexualisation of culture
• Controlled decontrolling or repressive desublimation? Elias and Marcuse on cultural liberalization
• Our bodies ourselves: shifting patterns and perceptions of embodiment.

We welcome contributions from academics and practitioners from different fields and disciplines and very much look forward to seeing you there!

Fusion Fund support for development of civically-engaged social sciences at BU

Fusion Investment Funds have been awarded under the Staff Mobility and Networking Strand to develop an interdisciplinary, cross-Faculty series of public/civic engagement ‘dialogues’ in the social sciences, drawing on national and international figures in the relevant fields. It will bring together leading academics and practitioners in a number of fields in the social sciences, building on areas already taught and researched at BU. It will be of contemporary relevance for the public and for students. Its contribution will be in the bringing together of non-academic experts, students, and members of the public, all in dialogue with academic experts.

The project team consists of a cross–Faculty team including Profs Ann Brooks (HSS) and Candida Yates (FMC), together with Professor Barry Richards (FMC). The team have already collaborated in bringing together a set of Research Degrees in the Social Sciences (MRes) and are committed to a broad based and civically engaged vision of social science at BU which gives prominence and visibility to student experience and public engagement. The title of the project is Distinguished Social Scientists Public Lecture Series – Dialogues in the Contemporary Social Sciences and builds on events held during Festival of Learning week at BU in July 2015, when two eminent UK social scientists shared their insights on how their research has contributed to an understanding of the social world.

The ‘Dialogues’ will cover the following areas:

  • Crime and Criminology – Representation and Reality
  • Education –Diversity and Opportunity
  • Evaluating Emotional Well-Being
  • Politics and the Media 

The project is about public/civic engagement and will have an immediate regional appeal in being the only high–profile series to be offered and well publicised in the region, one which combines experts from academia with senior figures from professional fields discussing issues of major public interest. The ‘dialogues’ will be filmed by BU students, and can have a national impact by being disseminated through both scholarly and professional websites, as well as attracting national media attention. The participation of internationally-known academics discussing issues which are debated across the world will give them some international reach and influence.

The series will involve students from HSS and FMC in the organisation, promotion and dissemination of the series and its ideas. The series will enable students to gain skills in event organisation, including liaising with speakers and delegates from different cultural groups. Alongside developing their social skills in that context, they will also contribute to the staging of the events as they happen and to the recording of the events through film and podcast. Students will also contribute to the actual content of the seminars as audience participants and hopefully in some cases be inspired to become researchers themselves.

The events will be organised in the period September 2015 to July 2016.

Posted by Profs Ann Brooks, Candida Yates and Barry Richards

Seminar on political violence today

The Politics and Media Research Group in FMC has a very stimulating guest speaker lined up for this afternoon (Monday). Dr. Jeffrey Murer is Lecturer on Collective Violence at the University of St. Andrews, in the School of International Relations. He is unusual for an IR specialist in that he draws deeply on ideas from psychoanalysis in his studies of violent political conflict. The title of his talk is “The Politics of Splitting: Anxiety, Loss and the Anti-Semitic, Anti-Roma Violence of Contemporary Hungary”. While focussing on the situation in Hungary, his talk will illustrate how an interdisciplinary, psycho-social approach can be applied to generate insights into violence in many other contexts.

The talk will be in P406. It will start at 5.00 and be followed, until 6.30, by questions and discussion.

All staff and students are welcome.

The social sciences at BU

In response to an open email invitation, a group of social scientists from across BU met on Tuesday 17 March to discuss prospects for inter-Faculty collaboration. As in previous meetings between FMC and HSS colleagues, it was apparent that there were opportunities for more collaborative work than currently exists, and that there is considerable enthusiasm for developing links. A growing presence of the social sciences in BU, and of BU in the social sciences, was felt to be essential to BU’s development as a university with a rich intellectual community. If you haven’t received the report from this meeting by email, and would like to do so, please email Prof. Barry Richards (

Cultural and Social Change (Barry Richards and Rosie Read)

A number of colleagues from four Schools (AS, HSC, MS, ST) met on Monday 27th June to consider whether a meaningful theme, complementary to those already in development, could be defined within the broad territory of the social sciences and humanities. We had a useful discussion around the following points:

  1. The themes are being defined as a way of presenting BU’s research externally, but may have internal effects, in promoting collaborations, inflecting research identities, etc.
  2. There will inevitably be major areas of overlap between several themes, given that all are broadly defined.
  3. Dialogue between themes in the development phase would help to clarify boundaries.
  4. The themes of ‘Creative & digital economies’ and ‘Leisure and tourism’, and also ‘Health and well-being’, were ones where overlaps and interfaces with a ‘culture&society’ one would be most obvious.
  5. Contributions to the debate about how to define a ‘culture&society’ theme had suggested that ‘history’ and ‘welfare’ were two important parameters, amongst others.
  6. In the discussion we were very aware of the need to introduce some limits to the theme, and of the possibility therefore that some ‘potential ‘members’ might not fit into the final definition of it.
  7. There was also a view that we should try to include both social scientific and more humanities-based researchers.

The proposal that the phrase ‘Cultural and social change’ might be an appropriate theme title was favourably received. While still very broad (no doubt in some contexts unhelpfully so), it puts implicit emphasis on the historical context (‘change’ being a process in time), which is important for those studying contemporary life as well as for those actually doing historical research. It would encompass researchers of different philosophical orientation, and is hospitable to agendas of social engagement (such as the social welfare vision from HSC, the commentaries on democratic culture from MS, contributions to media and cultural policy/production from MS and ST, and the perspectives on various social issues from AS). Whether the theme title can be modified to reflect explicitly this principle of engagement for social betterment remains to be seen.

The meeting decided that in order to produce a full prospectus for this theme we would invite any interested colleagues to contribute further inputs to it – building on or otherwise responding to the above – via the Research blog. These could be thoughts about the overall theme, or suggestions for specific elements to be within it. If you’d like to do so, please indicate which heading of the theme template you are addressing (summary, scope in/out, ‘big societal questions’ which the theme addresses, link to RC priorities, interlinks with other BU themes). Given the need to finalise a statement about the theme within the next month, we agreed that blog-based conversations and inputs could run until 15 July, at which point a smaller group would hopefully collate them into a generally acceptable statement which would establish the theme across at least the four Schools so far involved. Myself and Rosie Read are happy to play a part in that group; if anyone else is interested please let us know.

You can access the latest version of the scoping document for the Cultural & Society theme here:  Cultural and Social Change – July 2011

In the meantime, to help consolidate the responses so far around this theme, please note that the previous two discussion threads entitled ‘Culture and Society (Rosie Read)‘ and ‘Culture and Society (Barry Richards)‘ are now closed and all future responses related to this theme should be made to this post using the link below. Thank you.

Barry Richards