Research in Psychology

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    The second wave of violence scholarship: South African synergies with a global research agenda
    (Elsevier, 2015) Bowman, Brett; Stevens, Garth; Eagle, Gillian; Langa, Malose; Kramer, Sherianne; Kigua, Peace; Nduna, Mzikazi
    Violence is a serious public health and human rights challenge with global psychosocial impacts across the human lifespan. As a recently classified middle-income country (MIC), South Africa experiences high levels of interpersonal, self-directed and collective violence, taking physical, sexual and/or psychological forms. Careful epidemiological research has consistently shown that complex causal pathways bind the social fabric of structural inequality, socio-cultural tolerance of violence, militarized masculinity, disrupted community and family life, and erosion of social capital, to individual-level biological, developmental and personality-related risk factors to produce this polymorphic profile of violence in the country. Engaging with a concern that violence studies may have reached something of a theoretical impasse, ‘second wave’ violence scholars have argued that the future of violence research may not lie primarily in merely amassing more data on risk but rather in better theorizing the mechanisms that translate risk into enactment, and that mobilize individual and collective aspects of subjectivity within these enactments. With reference to several illustrative forms of violence in South Africa, in this article we suggest revisiting two conceptual orientations to violence, arguing that this may be useful in developing thinking in line with this new global agenda. Firstly, the definition of our object of enquiry requires revisiting to fully capture its complexity. Secondly, we advocate for the utility of specific incident analyses/case studies of violent encounters to explore the mechanisms of translation and mobilization of multiple interactive factors in enactments of violence. We argue that addressing some of the moral and methodological challenges highlighted in revisiting these orientations requires integrating critical social science theory with insights derived from epidemiology and, that combining these approaches may take us further in understanding and addressing the recalcitrant range of forms and manifestations of violence.
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    Bridging risk and enactment: the role of psychology in leading psychosocial research to augment the public health approach to violence in South Africa
    (2014) Bowman, Brett; Stevens, Garth; Eagle, Gillian; Maztopoulos, Richard
    In the wake of apartheid, many in the South African health and social sciences shifted their orientation to understanding violence. Rather than approaching violence as a criminal problem, post-apartheid scholarship surfaced violence as a threat to national health. This re-orientation was well aligned with a global groundswell that culminated in the World Health Assembly’s 1996 declaration of violence as a public health problem. In response, researchers and other stakeholders have committed to the public health approach to violence in South Africa. Despite some unquestionable successes in applying this approach, violence remains a critical social issue and its recalcitrantly high rates signal that there is still much work to be done. One avenue for more focussed research concerns understanding the mechanisms by which upstream risk factors for violence are translated into actual enactments. We argue that South African psychology is well placed to provide greater resolution to this focus. We begin by providing a brief overview of the public health approach to violence. We then point to three specific areas in which the limits to our understanding of the way that downstream psychological and upstream social risk factors converge in situations of violence, compromise the theoretical and prevention traction promised by this approach and chart several basic psychosocial research coordinates for South African psychology. Steering future studies of violence by these coordinates would go some way to addressing these limits and, in so doing, extend on the substantial gains already yielded by the public health approach to violence in South Africa.
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    Confessing sex in online student communities
    (Elsevier, 2017) Dominguez-Whitehead, Yasmine; Whitehead, Kevin A.; Bowman, Brett
    In this paper, we examine Facebook “Confessions” sites associated with two large universities (one North American and one South African) to investigate the ways in which students interactionally negotiate normativity in discussions initiated by confessions relating to sex. The research is grounded in a Foucauldian framework that emphasizes the centrality of sex and sexuality. Our findings focus on two interrelated aspects of the data. The first concerns the features of the initial (anonymous) confessional posts, and the second relates to subsequent comments on the initial post. Close examination of initial posts offers insights into participants’ orientations to sexual acts, situations and beliefs that are treated as either normative or transgressive. Subsequent comments posted by participants reveal ways in which the “confessability” of confessions is interactionally ratified or contested. The findings thus demonstrate some ways in which normative sexuality is (re)produced, ratified, and contested within student online communities.
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    Moving Forward by Doing Analysis
    (Sage, 2012) Whitehead, Kevin A.
    In this paper, I address some of the issues for the analysis of categorial features of talk and texts raised by Stokoe’s ‘Moving forward with membership categorization analysis: Methods for systematic analysis.’ I begin by discussing a number of points raised by Stokoe, relating to previous conversation analytic work that has addressed categorial matters; the implicit distinction in her paper between ‘natural’ and ‘contrived’ data; and ambiguity with respect to the (possible) relevance of categories in particular practices or utterances. I then discuss how my own previous work could be located in light of Stokoe’s discussion of debates and divergences between CA and MCA, and argue that being bound by the integrity of the data on which an analysis is based (Schegloff, 2005) should take precedence over attempting to characterize the analysis as exemplifying either a CA- or MCA-based approach. I conclude by calling for a commitment to doing analysis, and pointing to the value of the resources Stokoe offers in this regard.
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    Producing and Responding to –isms in Interaction
    (Sage, 2015) Whitehead, Kevin A.; Stokoe, Elizabeth
    We provide an introduction to some of the conceptual and methodological debates with respect to the focus of this special issue on –isms (a term used to refer to phenomena such as racism, sexism, and heterosexism), focusing on the definition and identification of these phenomena. We offer an overview of the different approaches to research in this regard, and conclude by summarizing the contributions to this special issue.