British Journal of Social Psychology
Submission deadline for full papers: 31st October 2021
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.