I have held a Chair in Social Psychology at The Open University (OU) since September 2011. Prior to that I was Professor of Psychosocial Studies in the School of Applied Social Science at the University of Brighton. I have also held lectureships and senior lectureships in Psychology at University College London, The University of Bath and The University of East London. I like to collaborate with colleagues nationally and internationally in various ways. I was a core member of the Beryl Curt Collective and am on the Steering Group of the UK Psychosocial Studies Network. As a lifelong Alexander von Humboldt Fellow, I spent a year (2002-2003) in the Department of Law (Institut für Arbeits-, Wirtschafts- und Zivilrecht) at the Goethe-Universität Frankfurt, working on emotional dimensions of human rights. I have held, or currently hold, honourary positions at the Department of Social and Biological Communication at the Slovak Academy of Sciences, the University of Brighton, the University of Bath and University College London, and I have recently taught courses at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain, the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, and the Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla, Mexico.
At the OU I am a member of the Centre for Citizenship, Identities and Governance (CCIG) and coordinate the OU Social Psychology Research Group (SPRG).
I have contributed to the development of a critical and reflexive approach to social psychology that takes process and relationality as keynotes at that is known as a transdisciplinary psychosocial approach.
The word 'transdisciplinary' here indicates an effort to move across, between and beyond disciplines whilst maintaining an integrative focus on the problem of experience. I think it is important that psychological processes (e.g. emotional experiences, memories, styles of thinking, subjective senses of identity) be understood as embodied processes that unfold in concrete historical and cultural contexts, and usually as part of networks of social communication. This makes history, anthropology, biology and so forth relevant, but in a way that emphasizes the experiential dimensions of their various subject matters. Transdisciplinarity does not deny the relevance of disciplines, but is about attending to the disciplinary borderlines, interfaces and other liminal spaces in which change and development occur.
The word 'psychosocial' marks a difference from the standard U.S. and European approach to social psychology. This standard approach is a disciplinary form of social technology that involves approaching problems of social influence, social perception, and social cognition as if they were describable and explainable as a causally related collection of discrete factors and variables. From a critical perspective, this standard approach can itself be seen as a rather unusual way of thinking, communicating and acting: a peculiar psychosocial form of life that is only understandable once we locate it in its various historical and cultural contexts. In other words, it should be part of the subject matter of a 'second order' social psychology (psychosocial studies) which affirms that a) all social issues and problems have psychological dimensions but that b) these dimensions need always to be addressed in relation to the historical, cultural and institutional circumstances of a social and material milieu. In this way we can begin to see how, particularly in modern neo-liberal societies, psychological knowledge and expertise has taken on a social life of its own, influencing the ways in which people make sense of their own subjectivity and relationships, and doing so in a way that can contribute directly to contemporary forms of governance and social regulation.
The bulk of my own contributions to this approach can be classified into three interdependent strands: empirical, theoretical and methodological.
Long ago in my doctoral research, the main empirical challenge I set myself was to identify the social intelligibility structures that variously pattern the understanding of jealousy and shape its experience. My continuing empirical concern with the emotional aspects of experience and communication is reflected in a series of articles on affectivity, love, and on the relationship between human rights and emotions. The rights and emotions focus continued a series of empirical studies on the ethical and aspirational aspects of subjectivity associated with contested concepts like authenticity, sincerity, maturity and independence. In each of these studies I was concerned with the ways in which experiences are negotiated and articulated in the context of historically occasioned modes of communication, often intricately associated with forms of governance. My recent studies of Human Rights, Quality of Life and Activity (as in 'active ageing') respond to the fact that, for better or for worse, these have become associated with globally dominant discourses and techniques of governance in recent years, and to the fact that the subjective dimension is key to their operation. In a series of studies exploring health issues ranging from IBS to sexual health and addiction, I have also made empirical contributions to an innovative experience-oriented critical health psychology. In collaboration with various others, I have recently received:
The critique and reformulation of social psychology has demanded quite extensive engagement with social theory and philosophy. The theoretical framework I developed in the context of my PhD thesis drew heavily upon post-structuralism, hermeneutics and ordinary language philosophy. This framework was collaboratively elaborated in the books 'Textuality and Tectonics' and 'Social Psychology: a critical agenda'. Since that time my theoretical publications have concentrated on the process thinking of figures like Whitehead, James, Heidegger, Langer, Foucault, Deleuze, Stengers, Serres, Girard, and Luhmann. The process orientation I adopt stresses the relevance of history and future oriented creativity to social psychology, and also the multiplicity of perspectives in a shifting environment of power dynamics. A recent book with Professor Steve Brown assembles some of these theoretical resources into the form of a Psychology without Foundations (Sage, 2009). My theoretical development was greatly enriched thanks to funding from a Leverhulme Trust Study Abroad Fellowship (awarded in 2002) and an Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Fellowship.
The task of developing a psychology in dialogue with the social sciences raises methodological issues, and I have devoted research energies to interpretive methods and forms of pattern analysis. In my PhD I invented a type of discursive analysis involving the decomposition of a given text into coherent themes reflecting dynamics of subject positioning as these unfold in social processes. Thematic Decomposition has since been taken up and used in fields such as health psychology, feminist psychology, the study of relationships, and sexuality studies. I have also written extensively on the use of Q methodology to identify (using an 'inverted' form of factor analysis) the range of discursive positions that can be adopted on a given issue, and to explore, both quantitatively and qualitatively, the structure and function of those accounts. My efforts to frame Q as a critical 'qualiquantological' mixed method grounded in process thinking have been quite influential amongst the growing Q methodology community.
I am currently working on a project with Megan Clinch, Monica Greco and Johanna Motzkau that attempts to apply transdisicplinary psychosocial theory and methods to a range of practice domains, including medical practice around so-called MUS (medically unexplained symptoms), and practices of justice and welfare involving situations in which, for example, children are required to act as witnesses in courts. Contemporary professional and lay practice across a range of domains such as these struggles with the need to handle multiple rationalities informed by various disciplinary logics and forms of evidence, and to coordinate these in an ongoing pursuit of 'best practice'. The practical difficulty in handling and translating the often contradictory forms of evidence generated by such distinct empistemological realms is particularly compounded during circumstances in which specialist rationalities reach their limit.
When dealing with MUS, for instance, authoritative health knowledge reaches its limit and falters, and when dealing with child witnesses, the legal presupposition of an autonomously rational subject can run up against its limit. If specialist knowledge provides professionals with a procedural rationality ('know how') that supplies a pratical orientation for professionals and clients alike, then such limits constitute points of practical impasse or paralysis.
Under such circumstances, attributions of a psychological nature typically come to characterise, either explicitly or implicitly, the forms of communication at play in practice. The spectre of the 'suggestibility' of child-witnesses, for instance, echoes the medical concern with the 'psychogenic' causation of symptoms and the 'placebo' effects of treatments. But due to the necessarily liminal nature of the practice situation at play, such attributions are essentially contestable, unstable and usually controversial if not conflictual (their characteristic feature is subjectivity). Our programme of research thus focuses on fields of practice characterised by stalemates (paralysis) and controversy (polarisation) associated with certain distinctively contemporary forms of liminality that are haunted by 'subjectivity'. We adapt the anthropological concept of liminality to include contemporary situations characterised by 'gaps' in structures of practice: gaps, paradoxes and voids in (or during) which the procedural rationalities of the social structure falter and are held in suspense. Such gaps, however, are also implicated in creative pattern shifts during which new modes of practice and knowledge are invented and put to work. Our approach to concrete practice situations thus entails a focus upon the destructive /productive activity of gaps, paradoxes and voids as these are implicated in the undoing of existing structural arrangements, and in the genesis of novel structure.
I currently supervise the PhDs of Eduardo Moreno (an ethnographically based study of the affective and liminal dimensions of the work of Organ Transplant Coordination Teams in Catalunia); Klara Seal (an interview based study of troubled experiences of weight loss maintenance issues amongst a sample of women); Christian Apfelbacher (a comparative study of instruments designed to measure the Quality of Life of people with asthma); Robert Wycherley (a history of pre-19th Century institutions for the mad in England).
I am willing to consider taking on new PhD students working critically within psychology related fields (critical psychology, discursive psychology, psychosocial studies), and am particularly interested in empirical (typically, but not exclusively, qualitative) applications of process perspectives. Domains of particular interest to me are: affectivity and the emotions; genealogies of subjectivity; liminal experiences; health related issues (particularly 'contested' or unexplained illnesses).
Watts, S. & Stenner, P. (2012) Doing Q methodological research: Theory, method and interpretation. London: Sage.
Stenner, P. Cromby, J., Motzkau, J. & Yen, J. (2011) Theoretical psychology: global transformations and challenges. Captus: Concord, Ontario, Canada.
Brown, S. and Stenner, P. (2009) Psychology without foundations: history, philosophy and psychosocial theory. London: Sage.
Teo, T., Stenner, P., Rutherford, A., Park, E., & Baerveldt, C. (2009). Varieties of theoretical psychology: International philosophical and practical concerns. Captus: Concord, Ontario, Canada.
Greco, M. & Stenner, P. (2008) Emotions: a social science reader. London: Routledge.
Haralambos, M. Rice, D. Stenner, P. Brown, S. Foreman, N. Jones, S. Kinderman, P & Sharp, K. (2002) Psychology in Focus: A2 Level. Ormskirk, Lancs: Causeway Press Ltd.
Stainton Rogers, R. Stenner, P. Gleeson, K. and Stainton Rogers, W. (1995, re-printed 1996) Social Psychology: a critical agenda. Cambridge: Polity Press. 306 pages.
Curt, B. (1994) Textuality and Tectonics: troubling social and psychological science. Buckingham: Open University Press. 260 pages. (Note: Curt, B. is a pseudonym for a group of authors that include myself, Rex Stainton Rogers, Wendy Stainton Rogers, Kate Gleeson, Chris Eccleston, Marcia Worrell and Nick Lee)
Stenner, P. Church, A. & Bhatti, M. (2012) 'Human–landscape relations and the occupation of space: experiencing and expressing domestic gardens'. Environment and Planning A 44(7) 1712 – 1727
McFarland, J., Hezseltine, L., Serpell, M., Eccleston, C. & Stenner, P. (2011) An investigation of constructions of justice and injustice in chronic pain: A Q-methodological approach. Journal of Health Psychology, 16(6): 873-883.
Stenner, P. (2011) James and Whitehead: Assemblage and systematization of a deeply empiricist mosaic philosophy. European Journal of Pragmatism and American Philosophy, 3 (1): 101-130. http://lnx.journalofpragmatism.eu/
Apfelbacher, C., Hankins, M., Stenner, P., Frew, T., Smith, H. (2011): Measuring quality of life in asthma: review. Allergy, 66 (4): 439-457.
Stenner, P. (2011) Subjective dimensions of human rights: What do ordinary people understand by 'human rights'. International Journal of Human Rights 15 (8): 1215-1233. ISSN 1364-2987
Stenner, P., McFarquhar, T. & Bowling, A. (2011) Older People and 'Active Ageing': Subjective aspects of ageing actively and becoming old. Journal of Health Psychology, , 16(3), pp. 467-477. ISSN (print) 1359-1053
Bowling, A. & Stenner, P. (2011) Which measure of quality of life performs best in older age? A comparison of the OPQOL, CASPE-19, WHOQOL-OLD. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 65 (3): 273-280.
Claremont, A. Church, A. Bhatti, M. and Stenner, P. (2010) Going public: landscaping everyday life, Cultural Geographies, 17 (2): 277-282.
Farrimond, H. Joffe, H. and Stenner, P. (2010) A Q-methodological study of 'smoking identities' amongst UK smokers. Psychology and Health, 25(8): 979-998.
Stenner, P. (2009) On the actualities and possibilities of constructionism: towards deep empiricism. Human Affairs, 19, 194-210
Stenner, P. (2009) Psychology, religion, and world loyalty. Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology, 29 (2), 102-107.
Dancey, C.P., Stenner, P., Attree, E.A., Coogan, J., Kovàcs, A., & Bàrdos, G. (2009). Irritable bowel syndrome Hungary: How do patients view their illness? Clinical and Experimental Medical Journal, 3(3), 487–498.
Stenner, P. (2009). Between method and ology: Introduction to special issue. Operant Subjectivity, 32, 1-4.
Stenner, P. (2009) Q as a constructivist methodology. Operant Subjectivity, 32, 46-69.
Bhatti, M. Church, A. Claremont, A. and Stenner, P. (2009) 'I love being in the garden': enchanting encounters in everyday life. Social & Cultural Geography, 10(1): 61-76.
Stenner, P. & Taylor, D. (2008) Psychosocial welfare: reflections on an emerging field. Critical Social Policy, 28 (4):415-437.
Stenner, P. Barnes, M & Taylor, D. (2008) Psychosocial welfare: contributions to an emerging field. Critical Social Policy, 28 (4): 411-414.
Stenner, P. (2008) A.N. Whitehead and subjectivity. Subjectivity: International Journal of Critical Psychology, 22 (1): 90-109.
Watts, S. & Stenner, P. (2007). Q methodology: The inverted factor technique. Irish Journal of Psychology, 28 (1-2):63-75.
Stenner, P. (2007) Non-foundational criticality? On the need for a process ontology of the psychosocial. Critical Social Studies: Outlines, 9 (2): 44-55.
Stenner, P. Bianchi, G. Popper, M. & Pujol, J. (2006) The Construction of Sexual Relationships: A study of the views of young people in Catalunia, England and Slovakia. Journal of Health Psychology, 11 (5): 669-684.
Stenner, P. (2005) An outline of an autopoietic systems approach to emotion. Cybernetics and Human Knowing, 12 (4): 8-22.
Watts, S. & Stenner, P. (2005) The subjective experience of partnership love: a Q methodological study. British Journal of Social Psychology, 44: 1-26.
Watts, S. & Stenner, P. (2005) Doing Q methodology: theory, method and interpretation. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 2: 67-91.
Lunt, P. & Stenner, P. (2005) The Jerry Springer Show as an Emotional Public Sphere. Media, Culture and Society. 27 (1): 59-81.
Stenner, P. (2005) Emotions and rights, or: on the importance of having the right emotions. History and Philosophy of Psychology, 7 (1).
Martin, A. & Stenner, P. (2004) Talking about drug use: What are we (and our participants) doing in qualitative research? International Journal of Drug Policy, 15: 395-405.
Stenner, P. (2004) Psychology and the Political: On the psychology of natural right and the political origins of modern psychology. International Journal of Critical Psychology, 12: 14-37.
Stenner, P. (2004) Is Autopoietic Systems Theory Alexithymic? Luhmann and the socio-psychology of emotions. Soziale Systeme, 10 (1): 159-185.
Stenner, P. (2004) Emotionale Dimensionen des Rechts. Forum Kritische Psychologie, 47: 39-55.
Stenner, P. (2004) On reaching the parts that quantitative researchers cannot: Commentary on Sage, R. (2004): 'How interviews with adults who stammer inform research directions'. Stammering Research, 1 (3): 290-292.
Stenner, P. Cooper, D. & Skevington, S. (2003) Putting the Q into Quality of Life: The identification of subjective constructions of health-related quality of life using Q methodology. Social Science and Medicine, 57: 2161-2172.
Stenner, P. (2003) Dostoevsky and the Spirit of Critical Psychology. International Journal of Critical Psychology. 8: 96-128.
Watts, S. & Stenner, P. (2003). Q methodology, quantum theory & subjectivity. Operant Subjectivity, 26 (4): 155-73.
Watts, S. & Stenner, P. (2003). On normativity, meaninglessness and the centrality of the self: a reply to the comments of Good and Brown. Operant Subjectivity, 26 (4): 182-89.
Stenner, P. (2002) Unsettling Social Psychology. History and Philosophy of Psychology, 4 (1), 43-44.
Stenner, P. (2002) Social Psychology and Babel. History and Philosophy of Psychology. 4 (1), 45-57.
Stenner, P. (2002) Words for Rex: Comentario a: Ibáñez Gracia, Tomás; Íñiguez, Lupicinio. Telling stories about story-tellers. Athenea Digital, 1, junio 2002.
Brown, S. and Stenner, P. (2001) Being Affected: Spinoza and the psychology of emotion. International Journal of Group Tensions, 30 (1): 81-105.
Stenner, P., Dancey, C. and Watts, S. (2000) The Understanding of their Illness amongst People with Irritable Bowel Syndrome: a Q methodological study. Social Science and Medicine, 51: 439-452.
Dancey, C. and Stenner, P. (2000) IBS - One Voice or Many? The Journal of the IBS Network,37: 4-5.
Stenner, P. and Marshall, H. (1999) On Developmentality: sesearching the varied meanings of 'independence' and 'maturity' extant amongst a sample of young people in East London. Journal of Youth Studies, 2 (3): 297-316.
Stenner, P. with Bianchi, G., Popper, M., Lukšík, I., and Superkova, M. (1999) The Construction of Sexuality amongst Young Slovak and British People. Ceskoslovenská Psychologie, 43(3): 231-252. (In Czechoslovakian).
Marshall, H., Stenner, P. and Lee, H. (1999) Young People's Accounts of Personal Relationships in a Multi-cultural East London Environment: questions of community, diversity and inequality. Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology, 9: 155-171.
Curt, B.C. (1999) Rex Stainton Rogers, 1942-1999: A Celebration of his Contribution to Critical Psychology. Annual Review of Critical Psychology, 9 (1).
Stenner, P. (1999) Sincerity, Authenticity and Aspirational Models. Changes - An International Journal of Psychology and Psychotherapy, 17 (4): 249-264.
Stenner, P. and Watts, S. (1998) [Re]Searching for Love: subjectivity and the ontology of the Q factor. Operant Subjectivity, 21 (1/2): 27-48.
Woollett,A. Marshall, H. and Stenner, P. (1998) Young Women's Accounts of Sexual Reproduction and Sexual Reproductive Health. Journal of Health Psychology, 3 (3): 369-381.
Stenner, P. and Brown, S. (1998) Psychology as History and Philosophy: implications for research. The Psychologist, April, 6-9.
Stenner, P. and Stainton Rogers, R. (1998) Jealousy as a Manifold of Divergent Understandings: a Q methodological investigation. The European Journal of Social Psychology, 28, 71-94.
Stenner, P. (1998) Heidegger and the Subject: questioning concerning psychology. Theory and Psychology, 8 (1): 59-77.
Stenner, P. (1997) Animals from the Underground. Manifold, 4 (3/4): 45-56.
Stenner, P. (1996) Shared Pathways of Heidegger and Foucault, Manifold, 3 (1/2): 12-17. 33.
Stenner, P. and Marshall, H. (1995) A Q Methodological Study of Rebelliousness, The European Journal of Social Psychology, 25: 621-636.
Stenner, P. and Marshall, H. (1995) Critical Discourse Analysis? Discourse and Society, 6: 568-70.
Stenner, P. (1994) Theo-ry is dead? Manifold, 1: 67-70. 17.
Curt, B. (1994) What do You Get When you Cross a Scapegoat with a Trojan Horse: a special edition? Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology, 4: 309-312
Stenner, P. and Eccleston, C. (1994) On the Textuality of Being: towards an invigorated social constructionism, Theory and Psychology, Vol.4(1): 85-103.
Stenner, P. (1993) Wittgenstein and the Textuality of Emotion, Practice, 9 (2): 29-35.
Stenner, P. (in press for 2012) Human rights between brute fact and articulated aspiration. In Madsen, M. and Verschraegen, G. (eds) Sociology of human rights. Hart Publications.
Stenner, P (in press for 2012) Foundation by Exclusion: Jealousy and Envy in Bernhard Malkmus and Ian Cooper (Eds) Dialectic and Paradox: configurations of the third in modernity, Bern, Switzerland: Peter Lang.
Stenner, P. (2012) 'Pattern' in Celia Lury and Nina Wakeford (Eds) Inventive Methods: The Happening of the Social, London: Routledge.
Stenner, P., Watts, S. & Worrell, M. (2008) Q methodology, in C. Willig and W. Stainton Rogers (eds) The Sage handbook of qualitative research in psychology, pp215-239. London: Sage
Stenner, P. (2005) Emotions and rights: On the interpenetration of the psychic and the social. In A. Gülerce, I. Steauble, A. Hofmeister, G. Saunders and J. Kaye (Eds), Theoretical Psychology. Toronto: Captus Press.
Stenner, P. & Stainton Rogers, R. (2004) Q methodology and qualiquantology: the example of discriminating between emotions. In Todd, Z., Nerlich, B., McKeown, S. & Clarke, D.D. (Eds) Mixing methods in psychology: the integration of qualitative and quantitative methods in theory and practice. New York: Psychology Press.
Stenner, P. (2002) Relationships. In M. Haralambos et al (eds) Psychology in Focus. Causeway Press.
Stenner, P. (2002) Issues in Psychology. In M. Haralambos et al (eds) Psychology in Focus. Causeway Press.
Stenner, P. (2002) Debates in Psychology. In M. Haralambos et al (eds) Psychology in Focus. Causeway Press.
Stenner, P. (2002) Perspectives in Psychology. In M. Haralambos et al (eds) Psychology in Focus. Causeway Press.
Lee, N. and Stenner, P. (1999) Who Pays? Can we pay them back? In J. Law and J. Hassard. (Eds.) Actor Network Theory and After. Sociological Review Monographs. Oxford: Blackwell.
Curt, B.C. (1999) Discourse Analysis. In K. McGowan (ed) Year's work 96: Critical and cultural theory 6. Oxford: Blackwell.
Marshall, H. and Stenner, P. (1997) Friends and Lovers, in J. Roche and Tucker, S. (eds) Youth in Society. London: Sage.
Stenner, P. (1993) Discoursing Jealousy, in Burman, E. and Parker, I. (eds) Discourse Analytic Research: repertoires and readings of texts in action. London: Routledge.
A repository of research publications and other research outputs can be viewed at The Open University's Open Research Online.
Module Chair of Exploring psychology (DSE212), and various aspects of course production.
|CCIG: Psycho-Social Programme||Programme||Faculty of Social Sciences|
|Centre for Citizenship, Identifies and Governance (CCIG)||Centre||Faculty of Social Sciences|
|Social Psychology Research Group||Group||Faculty of Social Sciences|
|Role||Start date||End date||Funding source|
|Co-investigator||01/Apr/2015||31/Mar/2016||BRITAC British Academy|
Taking a qualitative, discursive approach to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder we focus on the narratives of women in the UK who have either a formal, or self defined, diagnosis of ADHD. Understandings and patterns of diagnosis of ADHD can be seen to be gendered, with the assumption that it affects boys and men. The study will contribute to knowledge on the lives of girls and women with ADHD, examining women’s retrospective accounts to make sense of their transition through childhood to become adults with ADHD. The project is an exploratory study to collect a new, small corpus of qualitative data on women with ADHD and to identify issues to be explored in a future larger scale research project. The project aims to carry out a discursive analysis of women’s narratives to: • Investigate the identity work of women in relation to their experiences of living with ADHD • Explore (possible) differences in the way women assumed an ADHD identity in either childhood or adulthood; in order to examine how ADHD impacted upon their childhood and the role of diagnosis in childhood, later in adulthood or self-identification • Explore how women account retrospectively for ADHD in their childhood and how they construe their transitions to adulthood This will be of interest to qualitative researchers in ADHD, gender and disability studies and practitioners in health, social care and education.