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I Introduction

Critical Social Psychologies: Mapping the Terrain

Brendan Gough

Having co-authored a textbook on Critical Social Psychology, I was delighted to have the opportunity to build on this by putting together a handbook. There are of course handbooks of (mainstream) social psychology (e.g. Fiske, Gilbert, & Lindzey, 2010) and now we also have a handbook of Critical Psychology (Parker, 2015): this handbook of Critical Social Psychology complements the latter while offering a clear contrast to the former. The handbook obviously focuses on the terrain of social psychology, although inevitably this terrain is reconfigured, expanded and transgressed as analyses pull together elements which appear as discrete and disparate in the mainstream texts and handbooks. It is also recognised that other critical subdisciplines exist, perhaps most obviously Critical Health Psychology, which has its own website, conference and textbooks (see; Lyons & Chamberlain, 2006; Murray, 2004). Arguably, Critical Social Psychology can be considered to be something of a foundational field which has informed the development of other/related critical psychologies through the promotion of theories and methodologies applicable to domains such as health, educational and clinical psychology. Yet, the work of critical social psychologists remains dispersed, often contributing to more specialist conferences and books focusing on, say, Feminist Psychology, Qualitative Research or Mental Health. Which is why

B. Gough (*)

Leeds Beckett University, Leeds, UK © The Author(s) 2017

B. Gough (ed.), The Palgrave Handbook of Critical Social Psychology, DOI 10.1057/978-1-137-51018-1_1

bringing together the rich variety of Critical Social Psychology contributions ‘under one roof’ will help to further establish and promote this important and influential field.

This handbook features a range of authors working on key social psychological issues (e.g. prejudice, identity, intergroup relations) and reflects a diverse, buoyant and developing commitment to a social psychology which eschews psychologisation, reductionism and neutrality. The handbook is structured along familiar lines: theories/methods/topics/applications, so that it can be read alongside (and in counterpoint to) established mainstream social psychology texts and handbooks. That is not to promote such a traditional format which artificially decomposes social psychological phenomena into discrete topic boxes—as critical psychologists we understand the connections between theory and methodology, between self and society, and between social identities and relations—but following the conventional format is a pragmatic choice which will facilitate critical comparisons with mainstream work. The handbook also provides insights into some of the most pressing social issues we face today, including the migrant crisis affecting Europe, the devaluing of Black lives in the USA, and poverty and ill-health relating to austerity in the UK.

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