Selves, Bodies and the Grammar of Social Worlds: Reimagining Social Change

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In: Self and Social Change. Chapter 3: The Reflexive Self. Adams, M. The reflexive self.

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The old rules about what we are allowed, or supposed to do and be at each life stage have been torn up. Social scientific theory e. Future research could more directly address this element of the process of recognition. Social psychological research has complemented these developments in normative theory with investigations addressing the implications of recognition for social relations. Future research could explore such implications across a range of identities and audiences.

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Moreover, the identity of the audience may be consequential in a variety of ways. If recognition from outgroup members can promote perceptions of a higher-order commonality Simon et al. Yet, research needs to consider a fuller range of practical outcomes commensurate with the wide variety of behaviours associated with citizenship e. Needless to say, minorities do not only seek to win recognition for their various identities in everyday interpersonal encounters, they also seek to win a collective space in the public sphere through forms of collective action.

However, citizenship rights can also be claimed through other means. It therefore follows that one cannot simply assume that not voting signals a lack of interest in citizenship and politics. How such reactions may impact upon those seeking engagement is unclear. However, such reactions are likely to feed arguments within the Muslim community that question political engagement Finlay, and establish oppositional identifications.

Following on from the everyday nature of the performance and recognition of citizenship, the study of the locatedness of citizenship is a second broad area with potential to contribute to citizenship studies. By grounding citizenship within the experiences and practices of everyday life, the papers in the present thematic section build upon this work to both implicitly and explicitly invoke a spatial dimension to citizenship. Indeed, social psychology is conceptually and methodologically well-placed to understand the nature of these performances from the perspective of the participants and their audiences.

The physicality of citizenship as engrained in the practices of everyday life is highlighted in this thematic section by both Di Masso , this section and Blackwood and colleagues , this section in their elucidation of how participants understand their rights as located and enacted within public space.

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For residents in particular, the identity of the community is politically expressed through control of their locale. In a very different context, Blackwood et al. The secure, state-controlled space of the airport is both a place for the enforcement of citizenship legislation and the location of the symbolic display and recognition of identity. For Muslims though, it becomes a place of heightened self-consciousness and anxiety as their identity is routinely and publically queried.

Dixon et al.

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On the one hand, it is a space not only of but also for enactment of everyday citizenship, as expressed both through small acts of political resistance and identity performance as well as through the larger scale events of collective protest. On the other hand, it is a space of social control and exclusion, where some political ideals, values and identities are given prominence at the expense of others. Other papers in this thematic section invoke space in a less direct, but no less significant way.

Gibson , this section points to the grounding of lay theories of citizenship in territorial units other than the nation: the young people in his sample use a sense of belonging to their local area to rhetorically deny rights and entitlements to outsiders.

Though understandings of how institutions, and specifically the institutions of the state, shape psychological processes have been slow to filter into social psychology, this focus on the school as with the airport above is a useful starting point in considering the different sites in which individuals and groups encounter the state and how these encounters serve to shape experiences and understandings of citizenship. These approaches have either analysed the spatial dimensions of talk about citizenship or quantitatively captured understandings of citizenship within significant spatial locations.

The next step for this tradition is to venture beyond textual or survey analyses to capture the actual experiences and actions of citizens in their situated identity expressions and struggles. Moreover, processes of civic inclusion and exclusion are enacted not merely through talk and behaviour, but also through the material design and architecture of urban life.

It is illustrated less dramatically via host of urban design features that serve to marginalize certain groups e. Studying how such features are implemented, understand and resisted requires a further set of concepts, methods and analytic tools that are not widely employed by social psychologists. One area in which this has been accomplished is in the study of crowd behaviour, where ethnographic approaches have captured how co-present crowd members embody, represent and transform the identity of the group e.

However, in that literature the physical environment is considered either as providing the physical backdrop to crowd events or as a symbolic landscape within which the actors operate. On occasion, the ethnographic accounts of events involve a detailed account of the places where major elements of the events occur and comments about how the physical environment constrains or facilitates group behaviour. Absent from this literature on crowds is an examination of how the collective understanding of public spaces themselves becomes constitutive of collective thought and action.

A fully spatialized analysis of political action in public space could take cognisance of the role of coordinated movement and situated performance in the display of identity; the changing spatial relations between groups in conflict and in solidarity in public space; and how the physical and psychological boundaries demarcating public space operate to regulate or facilitate different forms of behaviour.

To be sure, these approaches and topics are familiar within other social scientific approaches to urban life, but the social psychology of citizenship can bring to bear both the understanding of the identity processes underpinning public acts of citizenship and the transformative potential of collective behaviour upon broader societal relations.

Conversely, crowd psychology is also well placed to consider how place and space shape the affirmation and reproduction of social relations though the routinization and ritualization of crowd behaviour. The understanding of the significance of specific forms of crowd within particular civic spaces can shed light on how group inequality is sustained as well as transformed through public collective expression.

Changing public space requires changing subjective perceptions of the ownership and rights of access to space as well as what behaviour is normatively appropriate there. Accordingly, a social psychology of citizenship is well positioned to examine processes of consensualisation as well as conflict over public space.

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If one challenge for the study of citizenship in everyday life is to examine the locatedness and spatiality of identity performance and contest, then another is to examine how difference and diversity are accommodated within the public sphere. In other words, at the point of entry into the citizenry, acceptance and integration of incomers are informed by multiple theories of citizenship and coexistence.

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The examination of formal and lay theories of citizenship, as well as the tension between them, has much potential application beyond issues of immigration. In terms of coexistence of ethnic groups, Verkuyten has illustrated that arguments supporting multiculturalism have specific patterns of content, with support for pluralism being focused on the benefits for both majority and minority groups, including an enhancement of their citizenship through self-improvement, equality and increased tolerance and understanding.

In contrast, arguments against multiculturalism focus on the threats posed to society by minorities: instability, insecurity and disunity as well as the explicit depiction of minorities as lacking necessary citizenship attributes for integration, such as tolerance. In essence, those whose self-definitions of citizenship involve strong forms of identity maintenance and display will not live comfortably beside those who believe that coexistence is best facilitated by the display of political neutrality or a single common identity. However such enactments of Irishness were considered to be inauthentic by a comparable sample of Irish students, who characterised excessive displays of Irishness as indicating outgroup membership.

For white Irish participants and the parade organisers, the event entailed the display and enactment of a relatively homogenous Irish identity. However, ethnic minority group members taking part felt that the event should display the diversity of identities within Irish society and were disappointed and disheartened when it did not.

As these studies show, lay theories of citizenship can vary across contexts as well as groups and that this divergence of theories can contribute to experiences of marginalisation and exclusion among minorities. Future research in this vein could explore how greater understanding of the diversity of identity displays as well as event-management policy can encourage greater inclusivity in similar public events. This first approach depends heavily on the self-reflection of citizens upon their own understandings of citizenship rather than an examination of their practices in everyday life.

Taking as a starting point the mundane realities of everyday existence, few people spend much time thinking about or trying to improve relations with other groups. Most have other responsibilities, duties, worries and cares as well as relationships and recreations that make up their daily routines.

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Where they live, who they work with, who their friends are, where their children go to school and where they shop and spend their leisure time will structure their lives and often incidentally and unintentionally will affect the amount of contact they have with others. At the same time, their lives are constrained and shaped by the official policies of rights and obligations which shape how different groups are treated and perceived as well as how they interact. One example of this is the routine experiences group members have of encounters with the range of government agencies in their locales.

For those groups who occupy a dominant or privileged place within society, these encounters are often unnoticed as they simply involve an affirmation of their rights and entitlements. For those from deprived or stigmatised communities, these encounters often reflect the wide gap between their own group members and those in the outgroups of police, health or education workers who deliver their services.

For vulnerable groups, service use encounters can therefore be experienced as sites of aversive intergroup encounters and the reproduction of marginalisation and alienation as well as disadvantage.

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Investigating the lived experience of routine encounters with government agencies is therefore fundamental to understanding and challenging exclusion at the intersection between official and lay theories of citizenship in everyday life. A third approach is to examine how concerns and routines of everyday life can be actively harnessed and transformed in order to promote better coexistence.

This is particularly relevant in divided societies with a history of intergroup conflict. Contact interventions in such societies that are based within local communities, and which tap into existing activities, prove more effective than those which take place outside of these communities Trew, For example, one community relations initiative based on positive parenting allowed members of opposing communities to come together to share their common parenting experiences and acted to harness their parental investment in the future of the community for their children.

However such initiatives typically occur against a background of formal polices of coexistence which may support or undermine local efforts.