The special issue editors (Geetha Reddy, Clare Coultas and Johanna Lukate) are seeking papers for an upcoming special issue in the British Journal of Social Psychology (BJSP) dedicated towards developing a social psychology of precarity.
Across the social sciences precarity has been advanced as a key concept for studying the social challenges that we face today : in sociology, ‘the precariat’ are conceived as a new category of people (e.g. Standing, 2011 ; Roy, 2019); in human geography, precarity is analysed as the production of ‘lifeworlds’ characterised by uncertainty and insecurity (Waite, 2009); and in anthropology, attention is put towards ‘collateral afterworlds’ where the redemptive promises of sociality and progress fall short (Wool & Livingston, 2017). Social psychological discussions on this topic are strikingly absent. In a 2015 keynote, Michelle Fine described precarity as a profoundly psychological idea, being “the sense of the predictability of the unpredictable, the experience of contingency and fear, (and how) the deep embodied sense of insecurity is… existential and affective, and it’s in all of our lives”. Precarity is not only something that affects the most marginalised amongst us ; it underpins the way society is structured ; it is not the exception but the rule (Mahmud, 2015). Nevertheless, precarity is also a ‘politically induced condition’ (Butler, 2009), it is structural (Fine, 2015), and certain populations are more affected than others. Questions remain about how we, as psychological scholars, can better acknowledge and engage with precarity when much of our theorising and methodologies hold presumptions of security, control, and consistency. The COVID-19 pandemic has only further exposed and amplified the precariousness of the lives of many individuals and communities worldwide, painfully highlighting the asymmetries and politically induced differences in people’s exposure to injury, violence and death. We view it as a matter of ethics that psychologists engage with this issue of precarity, and reflect on our own complicity in the political contexts that constitute its continued neglect.
We anticipate that this special issue will bring together theoretical, empirical, and methodological papers that highlight the specific contributions that social psychology can make to understandings of precarity and the interconnections of contemporary global social challenges that we face today. We hope to offer a social psychological theorising of precarity that brings into sharp relief the colonial and historical legacies affecting the realities of individuals and communities to date, and which promotes interactional analyses of the compounded insecurities and vulnerabilities that arise when multiple forms of marginalisation (such as race, class, gender, and displacement) intersect.
For this special issue, we look to receive submissions on articles including but not limited to :
- Empirical contributions on the study of precarity in understudied populations (such as marginalised communities in the Global South, refugees), underexplored contexts, and in relation to aspects of intersectionality.
- Empirical, theoretical, and methodological contributions that foreground conditions of precarity and issues of power and positionality in intergroup relations, and group processes.
- Studies that examine the interconnectedness of structural and psychological factors contributing to compounded marginalisations and conditions of precarity.
- Contributions that explore the generative and transformative potentials of precarity. For instance, social and community psychological work that seeks to develop temporariness and instability as praxis, for example through participatory action research, the building of solidarities across differences and ‘coimplication’ (Mohanty, 2003).
- Articles that offer conceptual framings and methodologies for the psychological study of precarity, drawing upon, and connecting with the depth of literature that exists in other disciplines.
In keeping with BJSP guidelines, we anticipate that the largest set of contributions will be reviews or original reports of empirical research. However, since scientific methods and theories at best tend to observe precarity and at worst reify the precariousness of particular individuals, groups and communities, we welcome contributions that apply a broad range of qualitative (e.g., Participatory Action Research) and quantitative approaches to counteract and concretely address the dynamic experiences of individuals and communities living in precarity. For empirical reports, the abstract should include descriptions of the sample, methodology, and primary results. For review articles, the abstract should include a discussion of criteria for inclusion and primary conclusions. Strong submissions will extend current theoretical framings of precarity.
Please submit full papers by 31st October 2021 through the BJSP submission portal, Editorial Manager : https://www.editorialmanager.com/bjsp/default.aspx
- Butler, J. (2009). Performativity, Precarity and Sexual Politics. AIBR. Revista de Antropología Iberoamericana, 4(3).
- Fine, M. (2015). Toward an epistemology of precarity : Critical theory and participatory methods in times of widening inequality gaps. International Society of Critical Health Psychology. 12–15 July 2015. Grahamstown, South Africa.
- Mahmud, T. (2015). Precarious existence and capitalism : A permanent state of exception. Southwestern Law Review, 44, 699.
- Mohanty, C. T. (2003). Feminism Without Borders : Decolonizing Theory, Practicing Solidarity. UK : Duke University Press
- Roy, S. (2019). Precarity, aspiration and neoliberal development : Women empowerment workers in West Bengal. Contributions to Indian Sociology, 53(3), 392–421.
- Standing, G. (2011) The Precariat : The New Dangerous Class. London : Bloomsbury Academic.
- Waite, L. (2009). A place and space for a critical geography of precarity?. Geography Compass, 3(1), 412–433.
- Wool, Z. H., & Livingston, J. (2017). Collateral Afterworlds. An Introduction. Social Text, 35(1, 130), 1–15.