Keith E Rice's Integrated SocioPsychology Blog & Pages

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The West and Russia: a Divergence of Values? #2

PART 2 Nationalism and the ‘dictator’ meme In the wake of Crimea, Gallup’s Julie Ray & Neli Esipova reported Putin had polled 83% approval, a massive gain from 54% the previous year – see graphic below. Clearly the Crimean takeover made Russians feel good about their president! Also interesting is the way approval slowly but surely dropped from 83% in 2008 to its low point in 2013. Was this drop a reflection of growing public awareness of corruption, the slowing of economic growth, restricted opportunities for personal advancement and widespread poverty? If so, it indicates Russians squarely put the blame on their president. From the same set of surveys, Ray & Esipova – see graphic below – found  that Russians reported greater confidence in their institutions after Crimea. Again there is a high in confidence in 2008 for national government and the electoral process, followed by a decline in confidence in the following years. Only the military bucks this confidence trend. However, all three institutions receive a significant boost in 2014. What is that much more interesting about the second set of results is that it allows us to see that, all institutions received a boost in 2008 – the year… Read More

The West and Russia: a Divergence of Values?

Published in Eugene Pustoshkin’s Eros & Kosmos e-zine, August 2014. Click here to read it in English on the Eros & Kosmos site. Click here to read Part 1 in Russian and here for Part 2. It’s difficult to write an article triggered by, but not about, an ongoing crisis that has no obvious outcome in any predictable timeframe. The Ukrainian army may be gaining ground but the United Nations’ concern about a growing humanitarian crisis may force them to slow down their assaults – perhaps helped by rockets fired at them allegedly from across the Russian border. The brutal fact is that West is not going to go to war over the low-level but brutal civil war in eastern Ukraine. The West is likely to continue to support Kiev diplomatically and with military supplies and intelligence and there will be reluctant incremental upgrades to the European Union sanctions on Russia (and retaliatory Russian sanctions on the West); but no American or European soldiers are going to die for Donetsk or Luhansk, even if there were to be an overt Russian military incursion. Russian militiamen causing trouble in the Baltic states could be a very different proposition, though. Treaty obligations would… Read More

Knowing Me, Knowing You – Excerpts

Excerpt #1: Do I really know Myself? Well, do you? Do you really know yourself? And, if you do know yourself, are you happy with your self? Do you like you? If you do…great! If you don’t…not so great…. I’ve been a management consultant for some 16 years, working in both the public and private sectors. This has often involved close coaching and/or mentoring with senior people, leading sometimes to deeply personal conversations and periodically therapeutic interventions. For the last 6 years I have also worked as a practitioner in ‘personal change therapy’ for people from all walks of life. And still, occasionally, it surprises me how many people who come to me on a professional basis either don’t know who they really are or what they’re about. Or they don’t understand why they behave in certain ways. In other words, they don’t understand themselves. Why they are like they are. In some cases, they can’t really see what they are like – and the impact what they are like has on others. Often the people they care for most!   These folks are confused. Sometimes they really hurt. It’s even worse when they do recognise what they are like …and they… Read More

How the Plutocrats are waging War on the Bureaucrats…

11 July 2017 In seeking to explain the 2016 EU referendum result, the election of Donald Trump to the US presidency and the rise of white working class right-wing nationalistic populism in general across much of Europe, many commentators, such as Rob Ford (2016) in The Observer, have portrayed these things as consequences of the relentless growth of globalisation. As the transnational corporations have created a New International Division of Labour pitching their operational bases where labour is cheapest – eg; North Africa, South-East Asia – so the traditional white working classes in the West have become the ‘left-behind’. As explored in Underclass: the Excreta of Capitalism and So the Turkeys did vote for Christmas?!?, the resultant competition for the jobs there are left make them particularly susceptible to racism, xenophobia and anti-immigration sentiment. For the PURPLE vMEME, with its safety-in-belonging need threatened by those not-of-our-tribe, this is a not-unnatural reaction. See: Is Racism Natural..? There is a complexity in this scenario, though, that is not always acknowledged – particularly in the way the mainstream media often tell the story. At the time of writing, as widely reported – eg: Mehreen Khan in the Financial Times – the UK has its lowest unemployment rate… Read More

So the Turkeys did vote for Christmas?!?

Well,  obviously it remains to be seen just how much damage Brexit does to the UK – socially, economically and politically. But the initial consequences do not look at all good: Britain’s credit rating downgraded, the pound struggling to get much above the rock bottom it hit on Monday, up and down (but mostly down) stocks and shares (with markets right around the world affected), the banks and many big companies drawing up relocation plans (with consequent loss of jobs), a mooted 25% of companies declaring a freeze on hiring staff, a significant increase in incidents of racial and ethnic abuse, momentum building for a second Scottish independence referendum and Martin McGuinness calling for a referendum on whether the island of Ireland should be reunited. The ‘serious’ newspapers and internet news sites are full of dire predictions of far worse to come. As the so-called ‘Project Fear’ appears to be turning rapidly into reality, it would be foolish indeed to say blandly everything is going to be OK, as Boris Johnson was doing on Monday morning. The pound and the markets were stable he stated an hour or so before the pound hit a 31-year low. Everything is not OK. Not in the slightest. The UK faces an existential… Read More

Leadership – a SocioPsychological Perspective

Updated: 26 May 2016 What makes a successful leader successful? is a question that appears to have vexed politicians and philosophers from the beginnings of civilisation. Certainly, the number of books and articles on leadership by ‘management gurus’ and social psychologists since the end of World War II indicates an ongoing fascination with the topic and, arguably, a vital need to understand the nature of leadership. Peter F Drucker, Stephen Covey, Warren Bennis, Howard Gardner, James MacGregor Burns, John William Gardner, John Kotter and Peter Senge are just a handful of the heavyweight names who have contributed high-profile books on the subject. One unequivocal key factor which has emerged from the multitude of investigations into ‘leadership’ is that leadership and management are not the same thing. Drucker (1967) was perhaps the first to say this, articulating: “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” Covey (p101, 1989) provides an illuminating example to illustrate this point: “…envision a group of producers cutting their way through the jungle with machetes. They’re the producers, the problem-solvers. They’re cutting their way through the undergrowth, clearing it out. The managers are behind them, sharpening their machetes, writing policy and procedure manuals, holding muscle… Read More

Social Change #2

PART 2 Lower Left Quadrant and zeitgeist The Lower Left is also where we need to consider how zeigeist morphs and its influence on the ‘climate’ for social change. As discussed earlier, the 1950s was a deeply conservative time in the United States. Stephen Perrin & Christopher Spencer (1980), in trying to explain their failure to replicate the results of Solomon Asch’s lines experiment (1951), attributed the difference in conformity to the conservatism of 1950s America as against the liberalism of England in 1980. They particularly pointed out the effects of ‘McCarthyism’, the strong ‘all-American’, anti-Communist hysteria across 1950s US which made many people frightened of being different for fear of being branded ‘un-American’. In contrast, having gone through, first, ‘hippie culture’ and then the ‘punk revolution’, Britain at the start of the 1980s was a much more liberal, anything-goes/express-yourself kind of place than it had been. Support for Perrin & Spencer comes from Nigel Nicholson, Steven Cole & Thomas Rocklin (1985) who found a modest but quite definite level of conformity among British students. Nicholson, Cole & Rocklin attributed the increase in conformity to the greater sense of national social cohesion which developed from Britain’s engagement in the Falklands War.… Read More

What is Globalisation?

Relaunched: 13 December 2016 “Despite huge differences in distance, upbringing and social context, many of us now listen to the same music, read the same books and watch the same films and television. Youth in Soweto listen to LA rap; viewers in southern China’s Guandong province watch pirated tapes of Jackie Chan; Sri Lankan refugee kids in Toronto come home from school to settle down in front of Tamil movies rented from the local grocery store. Teenagers and their young siblings in almost every place on earth know Bart and Lisa Simpson. I can sit at my home computer downloading the latest comminqués from Mexico’s indigenous Zapatista rebels and out of the corner of my eye watch the World Cup live from Korea on the TV in the next room.” Peter Steven (2004, p16-17) is describing the communication aspect of globalisation. Alan Cochrane & Kathy Pain (2000) describe other aspects:- “Drugs, crime, sex, disease, people, ideas, images, news, information, entertainment, pollution, goods and money now all travel the globe. They are crossing national boundaries and connecting the world on an unprecedented scale and with previously unimaginable speed. The lives of ordinary people everywhere in the world seem increasingly to be shaped by events,… Read More

Underclass: the Excreta of Capitalism

Updated: 15 September 2016 Though records indicate there have always been a small minority of criminals and ‘wastrels’ who formed an ‘underclass’ at the bottom of whatever social stratification any society had at whatever stage in its history, it was Charles Murray (1989) who first identified this social class as an emerging and important factor in contemporary British society. Murray says of the term: “By ‘underclass’, I do not mean people who are merely poor, but people who are at the margins of society, unsocialised and often violent. The chronic criminal is part of the underclass, especially the violent chronic criminal. But so are parents who mean well but who cannot provide for themselves, who give nothing back to the neighbourhood, and whose children are the despair of the teachers who have to deal with them…. When I use the term ‘underclass’ I am indeed focusing on a certain type of poor person defined not by his condition – eg: long term unemployed – but by his deplorable behaviour in response to that condition – eg: unwilling to take jobs that are available to him.” Those long-term unemployed who fraudulently claim benefits while doing ‘black market’ jobs, the addict who deals… Read More

Is Collectivism being overtaken by Individualism?

Updated: 9 November 2016 It’s been a given in cross-cultural research in the behavioural sciences that Individualism has increasingly dominated in the West since at least the end of World War II while the rest of the world has tended to be collectivistic. In the context of the early 21st Century, this dichotomy provokes 2 key questions:- Was it ever as simple as: West, individualistic; rest of the world, collectivistic – and, if so, how did it get to be so? Is Collectivism being overtaken by Individualism – and, if so, what are the driving factors? Geert Hofstede, Gert Jan Hofstede & Michael Minkov (2010) define Individualism as “the degree to which individuals are integrated into groups”. In individualistic societies, the stress is put on personal achievements and individual rights. People are expected to stand up for themselves and their immediate family, and to choose their own affiliations. By contrast, in collectivistic societies, individuals are seen to act predominantly as members of a lifelong and cohesive group or organisation. People have large extended families which provide safety in exchange for unquestioning loyalty. Individualism, according to Ellen Meiksins Wood (1973), is the moral stance, political philosophy, ideology or social outlook that emphasises the… Read More