AAC : Dossier « Towards a Social Psychology of Precarity », British Journal of Social Psychology — LIMITE : 31/​10/​2022


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​.edito​rial​ma​nager​.com/​b​j​s​p​/​d​e​f​a​u​l​t.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.

Refe­rence page