Social Psychology of and for World-Making

Power, Séamus A.; Zittoun, Tania; Akkerman, Sanne; Wagoner, Brady; Cabra, Martina; Cornish, Flora; Hawlina, Hana; Heasman, Brett; Mahendran, Kesi; Psaltis, Charis; Rajala, Antti; Veale, Angela and Gillespie, Alex (2023). Social Psychology of and for World-Making. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 27(4) pp. 378–392.



Academic Abstract
Social psychology’s disconnect from the vital and urgent questions of people’s lived experiences reveals limitations in the current paradigm. We draw on a related perspective in social psychology1—the sociocultural approach—and argue how this perspective can be elaborated to consider not only social psychology as a historical science but also social psychology of and for world-making. This conceptualization can make sense of key theoretical and methodological challenges faced by contemporary social psychology. As such, we describe the ontology, epistemology, ethics, and methods of social psychology of and for world-making. We illustrate our framework with concrete examples from social psychology. We argue that reconceptualizing social psychology in terms of world-making can make it more humble yet also more relevant, reconnecting it with the pressing issues of our time.

Public Abstract
We propose that social psychology should focus on “world-making” in two senses. First, people are future-oriented and often are guided more by what could be than what is. Second, social psychology can contribute to this future orientation by supporting people’s world-making and also critically reflecting on the role of social psychological research in world-making. We unpack the philosophical assumptions, methodological procedures, and ethical considerations that underpin a social psychology of and for world-making. Social psychological research, whether it is intended or not, contributes to the societies and cultures in which we live, and thus it cannot be a passive bystander of world-making. By embracing social psychology of and for world-making and facing up to the contemporary societal challenges upon which our collective future depends will make social psychology more humble but also more relevant.

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