Positive Communities Research Seminar Series 2017

We are delighted to announce our research seminars for this coming term. These include presentations from nationally renowned speakers on a range of topics e.g. disability; universal basic income; young people in Guatemala City; fair living; trans youth; gender in migration; abortion; conspiracy theories; mental health; and many more. All welcome to these informal seminars, hosted by the Research Centre for Social Change: Community Wellbeing and Health, Disability, Ageing and Wellbeing, Manchester Metropolitan University.

All sessions take place in Brooks Building, Birley Fields Campus, Bonsall Street, Manchester M15 6GX.

For more details: positive-communities-research-seminar-series

Seminar Series – Professor Abigail Locke

A discourse of ‘we’: gendered subjectivities and caregiving in UK ‘stay-at-home-dads’

Abigail Locke, The University of Huddersfield

Using a critical social psychological lens, this current work presents a critical discursive analysis from a research project on stay-at-home dads in the UK. Stay-At-Home-Dads are an apparent growing phenomena within the UK with more fathers reportedly taking on the primary caregiving role.  Reporting on interviews with fathers who had become the primary caregiver for their children, the analysis uncovered a discourse of ‘we’. That is, whilst the fathers were performing the majority of the childcare, when it came to discussions around their families and decision making in their parenting roles, the fathers talked in a discourse of partnership and joint decision making with their breadwinning partners.  The paper explores this partnership discourse in more detail, relating it to parenting norms and gendered subjectivities.  As social policy towards parenting evolves towards ideals of ‘shared parenting’, an in-depth understanding of caregiving fathers is an important task.


Wednesday, 16 March 2016 from 12:00 to 13:30 (GMT)


BR 1.66, Brooks Building, Birley Fields Campus, Manchester Metropolitan University, M15 6GX



Learning Disability Think Tank Event – 15 January 2016

Research carried out by members of The Research Centre for Social Change: Community Wellbeing suggests that people with learning disabilities are living precarious lives in a time of austerity; cuts to a range of services and benefits are threatening the community inclusion of people with learning disabilities.

As a result of this research, Dr Katherine Runswick-Cole, Senior Research Fellow in Disability Studies and Psychology, was invited to take part in a learning disability think tank event co-ordinated by Breakthrough UK, a Manchester-based organisation of disabled people who promote disability equality and deliver services to disabled people.

The attendees included members of People First Manchester, commissioners from social care,  and health headteachers from local schools  and a range of third sector organisations who came together to think about the challenges facing young people with learning disabilities in transition.  The meeting was held in the Brooks Building, Birley Fields Campus.

Helen Smith, community living advisor, facilitated the meeting, which will lead to the development of ‘good practice’ case studies that will inform the development of the Greater Manchester Disability Plan.

Michele Scattergood, Chief Executive at Breakthrough UK said: “engaging with such a diverse group of people on a single issue was very energising. The barriers that people with learning difficulties face to live ordinary lives are always challenging – these difficult economic times expose new pressures and opportunities to think differently, to work together in ways we have never done before. The think tank was a good start – now we need to harness the energy in the room and turn it into action”.

Seminar series 2015-2016

We are planning an exciting seminar series for the next few months hosted at the Brooks Building, Birley Fields Campus, 53 Bonsall Street, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, M15 6GX. Invited speakers include Abigail Locke (The University of Huddersfield, Liz Cunningham (The University of Brighton), Tom Muskett (Leeds Beckett University) and Esther Igan (Ryerson University Toronto).  Full details of the programme will follow shortly.

Liz Cunningham  works in Community Psychology at The University of Brighton and is the president-elect of the European Community Psychology Association (2013-15)

Dr. Tom Muskett is a Senior Lecturer at Leeds Beckett University, UK.  Tom is a Speech and Language Therapist with a particular clinical interest in working with children with diagnoses of autism and their families.  Informed by these experiences, Tom’s research aims to explore how Conversation Analysis accounts of interactions involving such children interface with mainstream and critical/radical approaches to theorising the diagnosis, and how discursive methodologies might underpin novel and progressive approaches to professional practice.

Dr Esther Ignani works in Disability Studies at Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada.

Dr Abigail Locke is a Reader in Applied Social Psychology, specialising in critical social and health psychology.

The seminar series will commence with a tweet chat on the 19th November to coincide with the Festival of Community Psychology being held in Manchester on 20th and 21st November, 2015 (19.30 – 20.20 GMT). Follow this link to find out more:http://www.bps.org.uk/networks-and-communities/member-microsite/community-psychology-section/news/festival-community-psychology-20th-21st-november-2015-manchester

If you are new to tweet chats, here is some information: http://www.slideshare.net/suebeckingham/introducing-tweet-chats-using-lth-echat-as-an-exemplar

To join us at the tweetchat where we will consider the Future of Community Psychology please follow us @critcommpsymmu and the #critcommpsy. We will post a series of questions between 19.30 and 20.30 on 19th November and invite you to join in with the responses. Each question will be numbered e.g. Q1 Q2 and if would be great if you could start your response to each question with A1, A2 etc. We will then storify the tweets.

Community Psychology – skills competencies and challenges

Rebecca Lawthom recently attended a forum organised by the European Community Psychology Association in Lisbon. The forum celebrates the 10th year of the European form of the organisation, and was entitled ‘Strengthening Community Psychology in Europe’. Participants from UK, Norway, Germany, Portugal and Italy attended the 2 day forum. Here are her thoughts on the event.

We debated, discussed and talked about the difficulties of strengthening the field of Community Psychology during difficult funding times. The neoliberal agenda, higher fees and employability agenda were discussed with some fervor and energy. Notions of engaged scholarship (not being sedentary academics) has become more difficult as metrics produce ideas of what is psychology and what ‘good’ academics should do. The valuing of community work, partnership building and engaging students in this has become more ‘risky’ or perceived as such and less valued.

The meeting was marked for me by three waves of community psychologists – the European founders were retired or nearing retirement, the middle group are working in increasingly tighter neoliberal spaces (some having left academic jobs) and the younger PhD students, multilingual scholars keen to get started.
We participated in a world café identifying the grand challenges facing society – migration, poverty, inequality and climate change were identified. The group is interested in developing a set of shared competencies although some question the ‘technicist’ tone of competency. We see the need for community psychology but not the market (again we need a business case to prove worth). A review of community psychology teaching across Europe suggests few specialist courses and much insertion of CP in other areas of psychology teaching.

If we want to strengthen community psychology we have to compete in tighter markets. In Manchester Metropolitan University, market forces have ended Masters provision, but to take forward a competency model, we are entering a competitive battle with other forms of professional Psychology. We have to take on a professional identity for this – a position which for participatory community psychology is riven with conflict . How do we make sense of our work within universities and entertaining civic engagement? MMU Place (@MMUPlace) is a project to bring this into the curriculum more clearly. We talked about the commons as a theoretical and practical idea. We increasingly need the commons and @critcompsy our work aligns with this. There is a possibility of a Knowledge Alliance between European partners exploring competencies funded through Erasmus funding. Beating to the tune of employability agenda, we will explore this avenue and feedback.