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Social Change #2

Part 2 Lower Left Quadrant and Minority Influence Social heroes usually can achieve little or nothing on their own. They need collaborators and, if they are leaders, they need followers. This means the social hero has to convert others to their cause and, thus, create a minority influence. The more people are converted to the cause, the more conversion to the cause (as a process) picks up momentum – the ‘snowball effect’ (Eddy Van Avermaet, 2001). Eventually the minority grows into a snowball so large that it becomes the majority. The social hero in the Upper Left is influencing culture and thought in the Lower Left. So how does a social hero convert others and how does a minority gain enough converts to become a majority? Giddens posits that people in general have a deep-seated need for ‘ontological security’, that their world is orderly, stable and predictable. Therefore, by their actions most people most of the time reinforce the existing culture and structure, There is a sort-of natural resistance to change. Just how resistant to change will vary as to which vMEMES dominate in a culture; individual resistance will also vary as to where that person is on their Dimensions of Temperament. People… Read More

Conformity & Obedience #3

PART 3 Dispositional and Situational The 2 approaches to explaining obedience were to some extent reconciled via the work of Alan Elms (Alan Elms & Stanley Milgram, 1966). One of Milgram’s assistants, Elms tested sub-samples of the 20 most obedient and the 20 most defiant from Milgram’s first 4 experiments, using Adorno’s F-Scale questionnaire. He found that those who tested highest on the F-Scale gave more stronger shocks and held the shock buttons down longer than those who were low scorers. Participants were also asked a series of open-ended questions about their relationship with their parents and their attitudes towards the experimenter (authority figure) and the ‘learner’. Elms reported that participants high in authoritarianism were more likely to see the learner as responsible for what happened to him, rather than themselves or the experimenter who was seen as an admirable figure by many of the authoritarian participants, They also often spoke in negative terms about their fathers. Though Elms’ sample groups were small, the implication is that there is indeed a dispositional element in blind obedience – so that some will respond to a situation demanding obedience more than others. In Integrated SocioPsychology terms the vMEME most likely to obey blindly the orders of a legitimate… Read More

Conformity & Obedience #2

PART 2 More research into conformity  Timothy Williams & Shunya Sogon (1984) looked at Japanese students belonging to a sports club and found that normative influence was much greater when participants cared about the opinions of other group members. The higher level of conformity found by Williams & Sogon may reflect the collectivistic nature of Japanese society and, therefore, may not be generalisable beyond similar societies. However, it shows clearly the influence of fitting in with those you with whom you have a belonging connection – that connection fulfilling the needs of the PURPLE vMEME. Supporting this, Paul McGhee &, Richard Teevan (1967) found that students high in the need for affiliation were more likely to conform. Dominic Abrams et al (1990) found an in-group influence, proposing that their 1st-year Psychology students would show more conformity if the other group members were perceived to be in the same in-group (Psychology students from a nearby university) than if they were from an out-group (Ancient History students from the same university). Accordingly, there was conformity on 58% of trials when in the presence of an in-group but only 8% with an out-group. Morton Bogdonoff et al (1962) found arousal levels were high in all participants once they were faced with the opposing judgements of… Read More

SocioPsychological Factors in Crime #4

PART 4 Defining behaviour as crime Picking up from Sutherland’s 9th principle – also discussed earlier when exploring the work of Bonger and considered in Crime & Deviance – the Difference – who decides what is criminal and what is deviant is no simple matter. Nor are there absolute definitions as even Functionalists argue definitions can change over time and between cultures. In the Interactionist view laws are, to all intents and purposes, political products that reflect the power of some groups to impose on others their memes of right and wrong and normality. Thus, Anthony Giddens (1993, p128) writes: “The labels applied to create categories of deviance thus express the power structures of society.” This goes beyond the Marxist view that the social control is about Capitalists using the law to control the working classes.  Howard Becker’s (1963) application of Labelling Theory to crime and deviance posits that, rather than a fixed scenario of the Capitalists dictating values that reflect their interests in society and are enforced via the legal system, in fact politics is a competition between different groups to gain the power to impose their values on others. Routes to such power obviously include legislative institutions such as Parliament… Read More

RED Thinking is not up to 21st Century Crisis Leadership

The RED vMEME is strong in the vMEME stack of most politicians. Granted, there may be a sense of calling to public duty (BLUE) for some while others may see becoming a politician as personal career progression ORANGE); but there will almost always be strong RED. The schemas in the selfplex that I am important…that I have the answers…that I can make a difference…. This RED drive will enable these people to put themselves forward, to shout louder in a world of noise where he or she who shouts loudest is the one most often others listen to. It will literally drive them to work long hours, cajole potential allies and bully enemies, and build power networks with ‘subservient lesser beings’ dependent on their favours. Strong RED, lacking any real anticipation of consequences, will make promises it can’t keep and tell lies it can’t possibly substantiate to avoid the immediate shame of seeming powerless under pressure from ‘challenging lesser beings’. RED is usually mediated by BLUE and ORANGE in most politicians. Such strong RED gets out of hand from time to time so politicians tell stupid and indefensible lies, get caught having sex with someone they shouldn’t, fail to declare a… Read More

Could the Political Centre be making a Comeback?

    Could it just be that, with Bernie Sanders’ 13 April endorsement of Joe Biden as Democratic candidate in November’s presidential election – see the ABC News clip above – and the 4 April ascension of Keir Starmer to leadership of the Labour Party, the ‘centre’ is making a comeback in American and British politics? A new poll reported by The London Economic’s Jack Peat puts the centrist Starmer’s net favourability 50 points ahead of Jeremy Corbyn, the ‘hardcore leftie’ he succeeded. (Of course, Corbyn was not really the Marxist the right-wing media slandered him as, though his views  were well to the left of Labour under Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and even Ed Miliband) Meanwhile Sanders’ concession to Biden effectively signals the end of what might be termed the Democrats’ ‘hard left’ campaign to win the nomination for presidential candidate. (By ‘hard left’ here, we mean the leftie side of social democracy; again Sanders is nothing like the Marxist some on the hard right claim he is!) Biden is decidedly centrist in his politics – some might even argue right of centre – but that enables him potentially to pick up leftie Republican votes, especially those who are totally… Read More

Vulnerability to Stress #2

ART 2 Life events and stress For most people life can be very challenging at times. Everybody experiences major ‘life events’ or ‘life changes’ which can prove acutely stressful and bring about illness – eg: marriage, divorce, death of a close friend or family member, etc, etc. Even Christmas can be acutely stressful! And stress-related illness can contribute to further illness. The idea of ‘life events’ causing stress to the point of illness had begun in 1919 with the ‘life chart’ work of Adolph Meyer. His work became the foundation for the Schedule of Recent Events developed by N G Hawkins, R Davies & Thomas Holmes in 1957; this looked at the cumulative effect of life events in causing stress. (Amusingly Holmes’ interest in the relationship between stress and illness came from finding his mother-in-law’s visits so stressful that he developed a cold every time she came to stay!) In 1967 Thomas Holmes & Richard Rahe added the idea of the magnitude of different life events – measured in ‘life change units’ (LCUs) – to get a more precise understanding of the cumulative effect. They examined the medical records of over 5,000 medical patients as a way to determine whether stressful events might… Read More

Boris and Trump: How do They get away with it?

Boris Johnson has learned very well from his hero, Donald Trump. If the populist right-wing leader of a ‘democratic’ country contradicts himself repeatedly, breaks his promises, has a scurrilous personal life, makes deeply offensive and totally insensitive remarks about anything and anybody, and even tells bare-faced lies, he can get away with it. That’s provided he’s got the right-wing press totally on his side; they attack and smear his opponents with unsubstantiated half-truths and even outright lies, and its journalists avoid taxing the leader and his close political allies with probing questions. Even when the leader’s opponents are succeeding in exposing the corruption of the leader and his cronies. It also helps a great deal, if you have organisations like Cambridge Analytica and lots of Russian bots manipulating social media on your behalf. Daniel Dale at CNN is just one analyst who has delved into what he terms Trump’s “bombardment of lies — Trump’s unceasing campaign to convince people of things that aren’t true.” He goes on to write:- “Trump made more than 2,700 false claims this year [2019]. (We’re still calculating the final total.) Some of them were innocent slips, some of them little exaggerations. But a large number of… Read More

Workplace Stress

Relaunched: 13 April 2020 The workplace is commonly acknowledged as one of the most stressful environments most of us have to deal with. Yet, ironically, stress is one of the most common causes of absenteeism from the workplace. According to a 2019 Business in the Community report, 61% of employees have experienced a mental health problem due to work and one in 3 have been formally diagnosed with a mental health issue. So what actors affect occupational stress  and how? Noise in the Environment Many workplaces, particularly in construction and manufacturing, are noisy – often to an unsafe level, requiring ear defenders. But even an open plan office can be noisy. David Glass, Jerome Singer & Lucy Friedman (1969) carried out an investigation in which participants had to carry out tasks under 5 conditions:- loud noises at random soft noises at random loud noises at fixed intervals soft noises at fixed intervals no noise What the researchers found was that the participants performed best under the no noise condition and worst for random loud noises – showing how disruptive unpredictable noise can be. Paul Bell et al (1990) have linked higher noise levels in factories to hypertension, headaches, stomach and intestinal disorders.… Read More

Money, Islamophobia and the Surge in Right-Wing Extremism

The mosque shootings in New Zealand on 15 March may represent a significant step up in anti- Muslim right-wing terrorism. At the time of writing, while there has been no further incident of major large-scale violence against Muslims, there has been a significant increase in anti-Muslim rhetoric and minor assaults, both verbal and physical, In the UK alone, in the week following the massacre in Christchurch, The Guardian’s Vikram Dodd reports: “…95 incidents were reported… between 15 March, the day of the New Zealand atrocity, and midnight on 21 March. Of those, 85 incidents – 89% of the total – contained direct references to the New Zealand attacks and featured gestures such as mimicking firearms being fired at Muslims…. Verbal abuse directed at Muslims in London in separate incidents is alleged to have included shouts of ‘you need to be shot’, ‘you deserve it’ and ‘Muslims must die’. Incidents were reported in Scotland, where a mosque was attacked; in Stanwell, Surrey, where police declared the stabbing of a teenager to be a suspected far-right terror attack; and in Lancashire. Meanwhile in Birmingham, police continue to hunt for those behind sledgehammer attacks on five mosques.” After the Charlie Hedo shootings in 2015, Juan… Read More