Where To From Here for the Psychology of Social Change? Future Directions for Theory and Practice

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Abstract

For a vibrant and viable psychology of social change it is necessary to examine its place and contribution to the societal processes it seeks to understand, explain, and (potentially) affect. In this article, we first consider the impact that research and theorizing on social change (should) have and related issues of how we communicate about our work (and to whom) and dilemmas around researchers being active participants in the change process. Second, we consider emerging trends in the field and comment on meta-theoretical and “meta-methodological” issues in going forward, including the interaction between individual and society, having theoretical models of the person that allow us to account for such an interaction, as well as rethinking our methodology and ways of “doing” psychology to better reflect people's experiences of mobilization and participation. In line with the proposed rethinking of our theories and methods, the final section introduces a new paradigm for investigating the nexus of social change and leadership dynamics. The overall aim of the article is to reflect on key questions and dilemmas facing the field and provide some starting points for debating and shaping its future.

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