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Keith E Rice's Integrated SocioPsychology Blog & Pages

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Northern Ireland under the Brexit Bus

Well, Wednesday evening’s videos of youths setting a double decker bus ablaze with petrol bombs – see below (courtesy of The Guardian) – seem finally to have got the current surge in violence in Northern Ireland on to at least some of the news channels.   Even so, Northern Ireland was only on 3 front pages yesterday morning – as the montage below demonstrates.  As ex-MP Anna Soubry commented on Thursday night’s Sky News Press Preview, it’s almost as if much of the news media are determined to ignore the spreading violence – preferably in favour of heartening stories of winning the war against Coronavirus. A frozen conflict On Facebook this week I saw Northern Ireland described as a ‘frozen conflict’. Initially I rejected that term. ‘Frozen conflicts’ were the ‘little wars’ Vladimir Putin’s Russia fought on its borders with Georgia – see Tribal War in South Ossettia – and Ukraine – see Hope from the Tragedy of MH17..? and The Madness of Pietro Poroshenko…? Frozen conflicts…wars, official in Ossetia and unofficial in Ukraine, in which the Russians had gained as much as they wanted to or could, in the face of international condemnation and minor economic sanctions. So they simply… Read More

Coronavirus Crisis: can We go back to ‘Normal’?

All governments around the world are still continuing to approach the coronavirus crisis as though a return to ‘normality’ is not only desirable but possible. Boris Johnson used the term several times in yesterday afternoon’s Downing Street briefing. A number of recent reports have revealed how the pandemic is exacerbating existing massive social and economic inequalities, both nationally (eg: Philip Aldrick in The Times) – and globally  (eg: Oxfam). This lunchtime Sky News‘ Nick Martin showed how Covid-19 is increasing poverty in the already desperate town of Oldham. Of course, a return to the kind of normality described in the Oxfam report may desirable for some but abhorrent for others – ultra-Capitalist systems that create “a rigged economy…enabling a super-rich elite to amass wealth in the middle of the worst recession since the Great Depression, while billions of people are struggling amid the worst job crisis in over 90 years.” This is the kind of normality a great many in the Plutocracy – as defined by Guy Standing (2009; 2011) – and their Elite lackeys in the right-wing media and political parties are working towards developing further. (See: How the Plutocrats are waging War on the Bureaucrats…) Not only do a… Read More

Coronavirus Crisis: Radical Rethink required

The UK government has never had much of a strategy for dealing with coronavirus. Locking down late long after the scientists told them to – all 3 times. Failing to secure adequate PPE right through the first wave. Discharging untested elderly patients from hospitals into care homes. Spending £12 BN on track & trace systems that failed completely or have been only partially effective. Uneven and unfair financial support for those who have lost income. Failing to secure the UK’s borders against potential Covid-carriers. Just for starters! But with the ambitious vaccine programme being rolled out, it did seem the Government was at last getting it right. Close on 5,900,000 had received the first dose by Saturday. Very impressive! But, at Friday’s sombre and testy Downing Street press conference, it looked like the proverbial wheels might be coming off again… Boris Johnson himself revealed that there is “some evidence” the new Kent variant is associated with an increased mortality rate of up to 30% Reports – eg: James Rothwell in the Daily Telegraph – that an Israeli study was suggesting having a longer gap between the first and second jab of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was significantly reducing its effectiveness A letter… Read More

Trump and the Attraction of the Extremist Political Hard Man

Donald Trump’s sending of his followers to Congress (Wednesday 6th) to protest the certifying of Joe Biden’s election victory ended the way it inevitably would: in violence. That Trump sent his followers as he did was bizarre. A single protest by a few thousand people was never going to stop Congress doing its job. The protest, of course, turned into a riot and the storming of Congress. That it got so far was equally bizarre. The followers becoming violent was so predictable it was nothing less than astonishing that the Capitol Police, who knew well in advance about the protest, weren’t much, much better prepared. The photo below shows how well the nearby Lincoln Memorial was protected during the Black Lives Matter protest in June last year. That Congress wasn’t equally well-protected beggars belief. The astonishing ineptitude of the police operation – especially when compared to the Lincoln Memorial guard -has prompted accusations of racial bias. (No doubt fuelled by video footage of some officers opening barriers for protestors and protestors’ selfies with compliant officers inside the Capitol building) In the immediate aftermath the media pundits around much of the world are puzzling about what the storming of Congress means for… Read More

Self-Actualisation/YELLOW

Updated: 12 December 2020 One nomenclature Don Beck & Chris Cowan (1996) have used for the YELLOW vMEME, the first of the 2nd Tier, is ‘Flexiflow’. This captures both the incredible flexibility in this level of thinking and the sense of peak performance Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (1993) identifies athletes, musicians, etc, experience when they enter the state of ‘flow’. In both his posthumous works (1971b/2002, p25; 1978/2005, p148), Clare W Graves unequivocally equated his seventh level G-T (YELLOW) to “Maslow’s self-actualising man”. Jane Loevinger (1976, p46) equated her Autonomous Stage of Ego Development with Self-Actualisation and Graves (1978/2005, p444) equated G-T with Autonomous…so it’s clear that Graves and Loevinger, both of them steeped in years of hard research, very much felt they were talking about the same way of thinking as Abraham Maslow (1943; 1954; 1956). However, this equation is not without controversy; nor is the term ‘Self-Actualisation’ used here in quite the same way as it is most commonly in Psychology. So there is some need to clarify our understanding(s) of ‘Self-Actualisation’ before we can benefit fully from this equation with YELLOW. Goldstein’s Self-Actualisation The term ‘Self-Actualisation’ was originally introduced by the Organismic theorist Kurt Goldstein (1934) for the motive to realise… Read More

Race and Demographics: Biden’s Challenge

So, thankfully, Joe Biden got enough Electoral College votes to claim victory in the 2020 US presidential election. However, it is far from the landslide that the more wishful-thinking Democrats had hoped for and which might have obliged Donald Trump to concede defeat. As it is, Trump is threatening a barrage of lawsuits to challenge the results in several states, alleging electoral fraud. Given that a Michigan judge has already rejected the Trump campaign’s allegations as lacking any substance, as reported by CNN’s Jessica Schneider & Laura Jarrett, Trump may find he simply doesn’t have the backing of his sponsors and donors to pursue his case throughout so many courts. According to Sky News’ James Matthews, some of Trump’s closest advisers are against his continuing Tweets about electoral fraud and senior Republicans such as Maryland governor Larry Hogan and Congressman Adam Kinzinger are calling for Trump to cease these allegations. However, given Trump’s history of erratic behaviour, it is entirely possible that he may refuse to accept Biden’s victory and resist his own dismissal, using every tactic available to him, from the courts to white supremacist militias like the infamous Proud Boys. So unpredictable is Trump seen to be that there are… Read More

Graves: Systems more than Stages

30 August 2020 Historically Psychology is full of stage theories. From Sigmund Freud’s (1905) Psychosexual Stages, through Erik Erikson’s Psychosocial Stages, Jean Piaget’s Stages of Cognitive Development, Abraham Maslow’s (1943) Hierarchy of Needs, Lawrence Kohlberg’s (1958) Stages of Moral Development, Jane Loevinger’s (1976) Stages of Ego Development to Michael Commons et al’s (1998) Model of Hierarchical Complexity, etc, etc, etc. Sociology has a fair few stage theories too – such as Max Weber’s (1922) Social Action Theory and Theodore Adorno et al’s (1950) Types of Prejudiced & Unprejudiced Persons. A stage is a period in development – often, but not always, related to age – in which people exhibit behaviour patterns and establish particular capacities typical to that particular stage. Most stage theories have people pass through the stages in a specific order, with each stage building on capacities developed in the previous stage. This suggests that the development of certain abilities in each stage, such as specific emotions or ways of thinking, have a definite starting and ending point – ie: the stages are discreet from each other The pros and cons of stage theories Stage theories allow us to look at motivations, emotions, cognitions and behaviours that seem to cluster… 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

The Prison Studies #2

PART 2 Evaluation of the Stanford Prison Experiment Most criticisms of Zimbardo’s study are on ethical issues:- Zimbardo deceived the ‘prisoner’ participants, with their arrest at the beginning of the experiment. They were not told partly because final approval from the police wasn’t given until minutes before the arrests were due to begin and partly because the researchers wanted the arrests to come as a surprise. However this was a breach of the ethics of Zimbardo’s own contract that all of the participants had signed It was not ethically acceptable to expose people to such degradation and hostility even with their fully-informed consent Zimbardo being both ‘superintendent’ and chief researcher produced a conflict of roles whereby he lost sight of the harm being done to the participants – in effect he undermined his own competence to conduct the study,  competence of the researcher being somewhat  belatedly recognised as a key ethical issue by the British Psychological Society in 2006 Those who had been guards had to face up to the disconcerting fact that they had been willing to mistreat their prisoners. Guard ‘A’ said in debrief: “I was surprised at myself – I made them call each other names and clean the toilets out with… 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