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Critical Social Psychology: Memory, Narrative and Representation

  • Module code: PS6004
  • Year: 2018/9
  • Level: 6
  • Credits: 30
  • Pre-requisites: Successful completion of PS5002 Social, Individual and Developmental Psychology or equivalent
  • Co-requisites: None

Summary

This module explores the nature and origins of social knowledge and critically evaluates the basis for claims to ‘absolute reality'. The module will be of interest to students who wish to examine contemporary beliefs and assumptions about the world on a range of political, philosophical, psychological and moral issues. In the second semester, earlier theoretical knowledge is applied to the study of collective memory (the memory of people across generations) – a foundational form of social knowledge involved in the construction of identity. The study of social/collective memory raises some political issues.  For example, in the aftermath of conflict, competing versions of the past are often a barrier to reconciliation. Understanding the nature and content of collective memory therefore becomes important. Students should have an interest in the history and politics of conflict including human rights although detailed historical knowledge is not a pre-requisite. Course material comprises film and television documentary, which will broaden and deepen existing knowledge of 20th century events.

Aims

  • To provide students with the intellectual tools (theories, concepts, philosophical arguments and insights) available within CSP to deconstruct  ‘social realities' (including social and collective memory);
  • To provide a theoretical basis for the existence of complex and competing ‘social realities';
  • To encourage a critical approach to social and historical meta-narratives;
  • To critically assess the relationship between history, collective memory and identity.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module, students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the theoretical foundations of CSP;
  • Critically discuss social theories and philosophies in relation to current issues and debates in psychology, science, the humanities and the social sciences;
  • Discuss the psychological and political implications of social/collective memory;
  • Review and clarify their own narrative on key historical events.

Curriculum content

  • The nature of knowledge: epistemology and ontology
  • The philosophy of science
  • Realism and relativism
  • Social representations
  • Constructivism and essentialism
  • Memory and social space
  • Bergson's process philosophy
  • Psychodynamic themes of memory and identity
  • Remembering and forgetting: Case Study I  Britain
  • Remembering and forgetting: Case Study II  Germany
  • Remembering and forgetting: Case Study III  The Balkans
  • Cinema and social memory

Teaching and learning strategy

Teaching will take the form of weekly three-hour lectures, each composed of a keynote lecture and interactive component. The keynote lectures will present the main topics of the module and the interactive sessions will encourage group discussion of matters raised in the first hour. In addition, there will be documentary presentations and a field visit and students will be invited to make a short presentation on a topic of their choice related to social memory in the second semester.

Breakdown of Teaching and Learning Hours

Definitive UNISTATS Category Indicative Description Hours
Scheduled learning and teaching Keynote and interactive 66
Guided independent study Independent study 234
Total (number of credits x 10) 300

Assessment strategy

Summative assessment will comprise a 2,000 word essay (50%) on an issue or debate in psychology, science, the humanities or the social sciences and a 2,000 word essay (50%) on an issue or debate related to social/collective memory. Formative assessment during the interactive lectures will take the form of a reflexive log, short essays and discussion tasks. Formative assessment will provide an opportunity for students to develop academic skills. Students will receive feedback on these skills, which will feedforward, helping students complete the final essay assignment.

Mapping of Learning Outcomes to Assessment Strategy (Indicative)

Learning Outcome Assessment Strategy
Demonstrate an understanding of the theoretical foundations of critical psychology Formatively through discussion in the interactive lecture
Critically discuss social theories and philosophies in relation to current issues and debates in psychology, science, the humanities and the social sciences Formatively through discussion in the interactive lecture and summatively through the essays
Discuss the psychological and political implications of social/collective memory Formatively through discussion and narrative analysis and summatively through the essays
Review and clarify their own narratives on key historical events Formatively through discussion and summatively through the essays

Elements of Assessment

Description of Assessment Definitive UNISTATS Categories Percentage
CWK Essay 50
CWK Essay 50
Total (to equal 100%) 100%

Achieving a pass

It IS NOT a requirement that any major assessment category is passed separately in order to achieve an overall pass for the module

Bibliography core texts

Core Text:  Hepburn. A. (2003). Introduction to critical social psychology. London: Sage.

 

Bibliography recommended reading

Brockmeier, J. (2002). Remembering and Forgetting: Narrative as cultural memory. Culture & Psychology, 8, (1), 15-43.

Fox, D. & Prillentensky, I. (Eds.), (1997). Critical psychology: An introduction.London: Sage.

Gergen, K. J. (1999). An invitation to social construction.London: Sage.

Hewer, C. J. & Roberts, R. (2012). History, culture and cognition: Towards a dynamic model of social memory. Culture & Psychology, 18, (2), 167-183.

Kvale, S. (Ed.), (1992). Psychology and postmodernism.London: Sage.

Liu, J. H. & Hilton, D. J. (2005). How the past weighs on the present: Social representations of history and their role in identity politics. British Journal of Social Psychology, 44, 537-556.

Moscovici, S. (2000). Social representations: Explorations in social psychology.Cambridge: Polity.

Portelli, A. (2003). Massacre at the Fosse Ardeantine: History, myth, ritual and symbol. In K. Hodgkin  & S. Radstone (Eds.). Contested pasts: The politics of memory (pp. 29-41). London: Routledge.

Pennebaker, J. W., Paez, D. & Rime, B. (Eds.). (1997). Collective memory of political events: Social psychological perspectives. Mahwah, NJ: LEA.

 Weissmark, M. S. (2004). Justice matters: Legacies of the holocaust and the World War II. Oxford: OxfordUniversity Press.

 Welzer, H. (2005). Grandpa wasn't a Nazi: The Holocaust in German family remembrance. International Perspectives 54. New York: American Jewish Committee.

 Wertsch. J. (2002). Voices of collective remembering. Cambridge: CambridgeUniversity Press.

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