Insights from Societal Psychology: The Contextual Politics of Change

Caroline Howarth, Catherine Campbell, Flora Cornish, Bradley Franks, Lucia Garcia-Lorenzo, Alex Gillespie, Ilka Gleibs, Isabelle Gonvales-Portelinha, Sandra Jovchelovitch, Saadi Lahlou, Jenevieve Mannell, Tom Reader, Chris Tennant


In this paper we demonstrate that societal psychology makes a unique contribution to the study of change through its focus on the 'contextual politics' of change, examining the different interests at stake within any social context. Societal psychology explores the contexts which promote or inhibit social and societal change and can be seen as a bridge between social and political psychology. It focuses on how the context shapes the ways in which societal change is understood, supported or resisted. To understand the intellectual rationale of societal psychology, and how it aims to foster societal change, we first consider the history of the discipline. Second, we consider what is meant by 'context', as understanding the environment of change is the hallmark of societal psychology. Third, we lay out three distinct features of a societal psychological approach to change: the politics of change; interventions and planned change; emergent change processes. Finally, the paper examines possible future developments of societal psychology and its role in understanding and creating societal change, alongside its place within the wider canon of social and political psychology.


societal psychology; context; social change; interventions; emergent change

Full Text: PDF HTML
Downloads: 9809

Articles citing this article (data provided by Crossref)

  • Ellen Johanna Helsper (2016)
    The Social Relativity of Digital Exclusion: Applying Relative Deprivation Theory to Digital Inequalities
    Communication Theory
    doi: 10.1111/comt.12110
  • Rahbel Rahman, Rogério Pinto, Melanie Wall (2017)
    HIV Education and Welfare Services in Primary Care: An Empirical Model of Integration in Brazil’s Unified Health System
    International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 14(3), p. 294(ff.)
    doi: 10.3390/ijerph14030294
  • Leda Blackwood, Andrew G. Livingstone, Colin Wayne Leach (2013)
    Regarding Societal Change
    Journal of Social and Political Psychology, 1(1), p. 105(ff.)
    doi: 10.5964/jspp.v1i1.282
  • Carlie D. Trott (2016)
    Constructing alternatives: Envisioning a critical psychology of prefigurative politics
    Journal of Social and Political Psychology, 4(1), p. 266(ff.)
    doi: 10.5964/jspp.v4i1.520
  • Flora Cornish, Jan Haaken, Liora Moskovitz, Sharon Jackson (2016)
    Rethinking prefigurative politics: Introduction to the special thematic section
    Journal of Social and Political Psychology, 4(1), p. 114(ff.)
    doi: 10.5964/jspp.v4i1.640
  • Dina Birman (2016)
    The Acculturation of Community Psychology: Is There a Best Way?
    American Journal of Community Psychology, 58(3-4), p. 276(ff.)
    doi: 10.1002/ajcp.12106
  • Fouad Bou Zeineddine, Felicia Pratto (2017)
    The Need for Power and the Power of Need: An Ecological Approach for Political Psychology
    Political Psychology, 38, p. 3(ff.)
    doi: 10.1111/pops.12389
  • Liora Moskovitz, Lucia Garcia-Lorenzo (2016)
    Changing the NHS a day at a time: The role of enactment in the mobilisation and prefiguration of change
    Journal of Social and Political Psychology, 4(1), p. 196(ff.)
    doi: 10.5964/jspp.v4i1.532
  • Bradley Franks, Saadi Lahlou, Jeanne H. Bottin, Isabelle Guelinckx, Sabine Boesen-Mariani (2017)
    Increasing water intake in pre-school children with unhealthy drinking habits: A year-long controlled longitudinal field experiment assessing the impact of information, water affordance, and social regulation
    Appetite, 116, p. 205(ff.)
    doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2017.04.019

Creative Commons License
ISSN: 2195-3325
PsychOpen Logo