Keith E Rice's Integrated SocioPsychology Blog & Pages

Aligning, integrating and applying the behavioural sciences


Suicide? #2

  PART 2 The social construction of suicide Scientific and quantitative methods are completely rejected by some Phenomenologists. J Maxwell Atkinson (1978) does not accept that a ‘real’ rate of suicide exists as an objective reality waiting to be discovered. According to Atkinson, behavioural scientists who proceed with this assumption will end up producing ‘facts’ on suicide that have nothing to do with the social reality they seek to understand. By constructing a set of criteria to categorise and measure suicide – in scientific language, by operationalising the concept of suicide – they will merely be imposing their ‘reality’ on the social world. This will inevitably distort that world. As Michael Phillipson (1972) observes, the positivistic methodology employed by Durkheim and other researchers “rides roughshod over the very social reality they are trying to comprehend”. Suicide is a construct of social actors, an aspect of social reality. Official statistics on suicide, therefore, are not ‘wrong’, ‘mistaken’, ‘inaccurate’ or ‘in error’. They are part of the social world. They are the interpretations, made by officials, of what is seen to be unnatural death. Since, Phillipson argues, the object of Sociology is to comprehend the social world, that world can only be understood… Read More

A Downward Spiral…

Relaunched: 28 October 2016 Navigation note: please click on the graphics to enlarge them in their own windows. I created the above schematic way back in February 2001 to provide a MeshWORK analysis/Gravesian interpretation (meta-state) of the causes of bad behaviour in so many of Britain’s school classrooms. It is based upon my own experiences as a part-time teacher and discussions around that time  with a range of teachers, including Kevin Beaton at (Kingswood High, Hull), Sheila Kaye (Whitgift, Grimsby), Angela Ogilvie (St Mary’s College, Hull), Steve Graham (Cleve Primary, Hull), Chris Massender (Westcliffe Primary, Scunthorpe), Cathy Byrne (Danepark Primary, Hull) and Jennie Beasty and Lynne Clarke (Shaw Park Primary, Hull). The schematic is, as these teachers pointed out, a generalisation and should not divert attention away from the many positive things going on in many schools. Nonetheless, the schematic does identify the roots of so many of the problems and how so many situations are compounded by the best of intentions. A Downward Spiral… was developed as part of a  in February 2001 and was used by Spiral Dynamics co-developer Don Beck as part of his keynote address to the World Education Fellowship in Sun City, South Africa, that April. It has… Read More

Why Brexit makes Me SO ANGRY!!

Carol Thornton is a Green Party councillor in North Lincolnshire. Way back in 2005 she came on one of my training courses in Hull. Our paths haven’t really crossed since but we’re Facebook ‘friends’ and occasionally comment on each other’s postings. Earlier this month Carol called one of my postings about Boris ‘Liar’ Johnson and some of the more dreadful economic consequences of a ‘hard Brexit’ “more overtly political than your usual. Whatever happened to the Spiral?” It was a good challenge that really took me aback. I pointed out that my last 4 Integrated SocioPsychology Blog posts had been concerned with the EU referendum and the development of Brexit. However, I conceded: “I struggle to be dispassionate and objective on the EU issue because Brexit is going to be such a social and economic disaster and #traitormay is just ploughing on regardless. It’s hard to be dispassionate and objective when you feel personally and immediately threatened by something. And I feel personally and immediately threatened by Brexit. I envision living out my old age in poverty because of what these moronic zealots are doing to our country. I am VERY ANGRY!!” When you feel “personally and immediately threatened”, the emotional… Read More

Developing Countries, Democracy & Values

by Alan Tonkin 14 July 2008 Alan Tonkin is Chairman of the Global Values Network Group whose web site is one of the most advanced in the world at using Spiral Dynamics to monitor shifts in societies and assess impacts at both national, international and even global levels. Alan generously allowed this piece, written for the GVN site, to be published here. In considering the role of developing countries in the 21st Century, there is little doubt that their position on the ‘values scale’ largely determines their relative progress on the economic and social fronts. There are a number of global indicators that can be used including the ‘Failed States Index 2008’ produced by and The Fund for Peace. The map shown above (courtesy of – click to enlarge) indicates 5 categories ranging from ‘Most Stable’ (the top ranking), through ‘Stable’, ‘Borderline’, ‘In Danger’ to the lowest level which is ‘Critical’. We have already commented on a number of countries falling into the ‘Critical’ position* and will now consider the challenges facing developing countries falling into the ‘In Danger’ category. Some countries falling into the ‘In Danger’ category are those attempting to move into higher levels of stability, while at the… Read More

Values & Development

– the Key to the 21st Century by Alan Tonkin 3 January 2008 Alan Tonkin isChairman of the Global Values Network Group whose  web site was one of the most advanced in the world at using Spiral Dynamics to monitor shifts in societies and assess impacts at both national, international and even global levels. Alan generously allowed this piece, written for the GVN site, to be published here. As we enter 2008 with all its challenges and opportunities it is appropriate to consider the global situation and in particular the developed world’s obsession with the spreading of Western style constitutional Democracy on a global scale. In considering the above statement, it is important to note that, in the case of Europe and the USA, this process has been a long journey over centuries, going back to the Middle Ages. What is now being demanded of many developing countries is that they move rapidly in values terms from tribal societies as in the case of Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan to constitutional democracies overnight in historical terms. The recent situation in Pakistan is particularly interesting as there is much talk by leaders there of Democracy. However, with the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, unlike… Read More

Innovation & Values in the 21st Century

by Alan Tonkin 20 October 2007 Alan Tonkin is Chairman of the Global Values Network Group whose web site is one of the most advanced in the world at using Spiral Dynamics to monitor shifts in societies and assess impacts at both national, international and even global levels Alan generously allowed this piece, written for the GVN site, to be published here. We continuously hear the call for more and more innovation in our 21st Century world; but the question is what is innovation, as seen by the larger mix of global citizens? In a developed world view this means better ways of resolving issues by the use of technology, either by the use of existing technology or by considering new approaches to the issue being tackled. However, in other less well developed and resource-deprived societies the question of innovation may appear to be very different to the 21st Century approach above. Values and innovation The level of values present in a society reflects very clearly on the type of problems that it is able to tackle in an innovative way. Some examples taken from the various values levels show that the ‘life conditions’ clearly influence the type of response to a particular issue.… Read More

Different Values: Different Democracy

Differing values systems require differing types of Democracy by Alan Tonkin 29 June 2005 Alan Tonkin is Chairman of the Global Values Network Group whose web site is one of the most advanced in the world at using Spiral Dynamics to monitor shifts in societies and assess impacts at both national, international and even global levels Alan generously allowed this piece, written for the GVN site, to be published here. In looking at the world with its widely varying values systems, it is interesting to see how the word ‘democracy’ means different things to different people. An example of this is, when leaders from the Western developed world speak of Democracy, they generally mean constitutional democracy based on a universal franchise, multi-party system. These countries generally operate in the BLUE/ORANGE/GREEN/YELLOW spectrum of values systems. However, in developing economies constitutional arrangements can vary with the values spread being across the PURPLE/RED/BLUE/ORANGE/GREEN range. In cases such as this, ‘democracy’ means something different to the first example quoted as PURPLE/RED/BLUE requires a modification of the type of system that is likely to be effective. In this case a firmer more directive system is likely to work best. How democratic systems vary across values systems In… Read More

Psychosocial Development #2

PART 2 In his later stages, Erikson moves away from and beyond Sigmund Freud’s 5 stages. STAGE 5: PEER RELATIONSHIPS/ADOLESCENCE It was adolescence that interested Erikson first and most; and the patterns he saw here were the starting points for his thinking about all the other stages. At this stage, adolescents are in search of an identity that will lead them to adulthood. Adolescents make a strong effort to answer the question “Who am I?” Erikson notes the healthy resolution of earlier conflicts can now serve as a foundation for the search for an identity. If the child overcomes earlier conflicts, they are prepared to search for identity. Did they develop the basic sense of trust? Do they have a strong sense of industry to believe in themselves? Without these things, the adolescent is likely to experience confusion about their social role(s), meaning an uncertainty about your place in society and the world. When an adolescent is confronted by role confusion, Erikson says that is likely to produce an identity crisis. Erikson strongly supported the notion that society should provide clear rites of passage – certain accomplishments and rituals that help to distinguish the adult from the child. In one way… Read More

The Trouble with Tribalism…

7 July 2016 …is that most Western politicians don’t get it. It’s seen as something relevant to Pre-Modern ‘primitive’ communities but not to Modern societies. And, when Western-style one person/one (secret) vote Democracy is offered to tribal communities as part of the Modernisation process, so many Western leaders seem genuinely perplexed at the relative lack of enthusiasm for it. The Americans in particular seemed baffled that attempts to embed Democracy in the wake of their invasions of the Noughties produced the markedly-corrupt government of Hamid Karzai in Afghanistan and the corrupt and overtly-sectarian government of Nouri al-Maliki in Iraq. A Do-It-Yourself attempt to introduce Democracy in Egypt produced a government (of the Islamic Brotherhood) so unacceptable to the urban middle classes and the army that a ‘sort-of coup’ was instigated, followed by rigged elections, to return the country to neo-military rule as before. Highly-controversial and bitterly-contested ‘democratic’ elections following Libya’s revolutionary civil war resulted in 2 – and arguably 3? – would-be governments claiming the right to rule with their various militia, often organised on sectarian or tribal lines, slugging it out in a patchy, second civil war. Anyone versed in the Gravesian approach could have told the Western planners and the internet-inspired urban ‘democrats’ of Egypt that their campaigns to introduce Western-style Democracy would hit trouble. (See:… Read More


PART 2 The Ist Tier BEIGE (A-N) (Maslow’s Survival; Loevinger’s Pre-Social) This vMEME is concerned with basic survival needs and is bottom of the Spiral. It is instinctive and does not lend itself to cognitive thought as such. Air, food and water, sleep, shelter from the elements and sex for procreation (rather than pleasure or affection) are the very basic drives which characterise this vMEME. If these requirements are not met (with the partial exception of sex), the human body simply cannot continue to function. If the BEIGE driver ceases to work, then we will die because we simply will not do what we need to do to survive. BEIGE ceasing to function is almost certainly what is meant when we say that someone has lost the will to live. Much of what Evolutionary Psychology has to say about the essentials of human nature is centred at this pre-cognitive, animalistic level. BEIGE/PURPLE (A-N/B-O) There is not enough reliable data to break this transition down into exiting and entering phases. The organism is beginning to show signs of cognition. Graves (1978/2005, p214) referred to it as the beginning of “viable psychological life”. Basic cause-and-effect assumptions start to be made. Primitive clans associate… Read More