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Dr Kesi Mahendran

Kesi Mahendran sat in the Open University legacy garden in front of her office

Profile summary

Web links

Professional biography

I am a social and political psychologist whose research seeks to support dialogue between citizens and their governments on vexed political questions such as migration, sovereignty, European and Global citizenship.  

I moved from the Scottish Government to the Open University in 2007. As a psychologists my research work challenge the de-politicisation that can occur within psychological research and equally foregrounds the social/relational features of hot-button topics which have become politicized e.g. migration.  I am particularly interested in the conditions when people move from public opinion to public dialogue. 

My starting point is that public decision-making on migration, citizenship and the boundaries of belonging often inter-relate with an individual's own degree of migration-mobility. I  measure this using a 10-point Migration-Mobility Continuum (MMC - see banner above) and have set out the relationship between the MMC and integration, citizenship, populism, sense of home and one-world narrative (OWN) in a series of open-access publications. 

The third phase of my Public Dialogue research programme began in 2018 it is focused citizen worldview mapping and consensus and dissensus in public decision-making on international relations. The research group consists of two PhD students and myself, together we are examining (i) public narratives and decision-making on international relations and (ii) the contexts and conditions within which people sustain dialogue with others who they may have strong disagreements. This phase includes the Rachael Webb Political Psychology PhD Studentship into consensus and dissensus in the UK public's decision making on Europe and beyond - a study led by Anthony English in 2018. It also includes a PhD thesis into the political decision-making of the Silent Generation on Europe and Beyond which Sue Nieland began investigating in October 2019. 

 

 

Research interests

Research projects and supervisory interests relate to:

  • Dialogical approaches to understanding the relationship between citizens and governments
  • From public opinion to public dialogue - via public narratives
  • Social psychological processes relating to self-other relations, categorisation and reification
  • Narratives of European & Global citizenship - including a one world narrative (OWN)
  • Migration, Integration & Citizenship within European Union - reflexive methods
  • Public Dialogue on International Relations
  • Public narratives of Brexit and the parameters of UK-EU relations
  • The psychology of "home"
  • Comparative Methods & Online Interactive Mapping Methods. 

I welcome applications from PhD students in any of these areas. 

 

A repository of research publications and other research outputs can be viewed at The Open University's Open Research Online.

Teaching interests

I have a longstanding passion for teaching adults psychology having taught at Southwark College London, University of Stirling and University of Edinburgh.  I am currently the chair of DD801 Principles of Social and Psychological Inquiry. This module develops a set of principles of social and psychological inquiry. It provides an opportunity to understand the iterative cycles by which research is conceived (the concepts & categories it uses and assumes), created (the methods it employs) and received by a variety of publics  (general public, media and governments).

DD801 is the first module for PG studies into Forensic Psychological Studies (F73), Psychology (F74), Crime & Justice, (F75). It can also be taken as a part of the MA in Open Studies and as a PG(Cert) module leading to a PG (Cert) in Social and Psychological Inquiry. If you would like to access a free 'Open Learn' taster from the module - link to the right. 

I am a member of the Open University's Racial Equality Steering Group.  

Impact and engagement

Talks and Public Articles - linked to the right. 

 

External collaborations

I am a chartered member and Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society,

I am the Secretary of the new BPS/PSA Political Psychology Section which bridges BPS and PSA for academics and practitioners interested in connections between psychology and politics.

If you would like to join the section more information can be found here:

https://www.bps.org.uk/member-microsites/political-psychology-section

I am a Section Editor of the Journal of Social and Political Psychology.

I am a member of the Society for Theoretical Psychology. 

I am a member of the International Society of Political Psychology.

I am a former convenor of the PSA Comparative European Politics Specialist Group until 2018.

I sit on the board of the IMISCOE Standing Commitee on Reflexivities in Migration Studies - more information can be found here:  

https://www.imiscoe.org/research/standing-committees/927-reflexive-migration-studies

 

Research groups

NameTypeParent Unit
Centre for Citizenship, Identifies and Governance (CCIG)CentreFaculty of Social Sciences

Publications

Reification and the Refugee: using a counterposing dialogical analysis to unlock a frozen category (2019-07-03)
Mahendran, Kesi; Magnusson, Nicola; Howarth, Caroline and Scuzzarello, Sarah
Journal of Social and Political Psychology, 7(1) (pp. 577-597)


From polarized we/they public opinion on European Integration towards social representations of public dialogue (2018-12)
Mahendran, Kesi
Political Psychology, 39(6) (pp. 1339-1355)


Public narratives on human mobility: Countering technocratic and humanitarian refugee narratives with a "one-world" solidarity narrative (2017-03-13)
Mahendran, Kesi
Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology, 27(2) (pp. 147-157)


Public Narratives Of European Citizenship – The Dialogical Citizen In The European Public Sphere. (2015-09-10)
Mahendran, Kesi; Jackson, Ima and Kapoor, Anubhuti
In: Korkut, Umut; Mahendran, Kesi; Buckan-Knapp, Gregg and Cox, Robert Henry eds. Discursive Governance in Politics, Policy and the Public Sphere (pp. 147-162)
ISBN : 9781137495778 | Publisher : Palgrave Macmillan | Published : Basingstoke


Introduction: Discursive governance: operationalization and applications (2015-09-10)
Korkut, Umut; Mahendran, Kesi; Buckan-Knapp, Gregg and Cox, Robert Henry
In: Korkut, Umut; Mahendran, Kesi; Buckan-Knapp, Gregg and Cox, Robert Henry eds. Discursive Governance in Politics, Policy and the Public Sphere (pp. 1-11)
ISBN : 9781137495778 | Publisher : Palgrave Macmillan | Published : Basingstoke


“A two-way process of accommodation” Public perceptions of integration along the migration-mobility continuum (2013-07)
Mahendran, Kesi
In: Korkut, Umut; Bucken-Knapp, Greg; McGarry, Aidan; Hinnfors, Jonas and Drake, Helen eds. The Discourses and Politics of Migration in Europe. Europe in Transition (pp. 109-131)
ISBN : 9781137310897 | Publisher : Palgrave Macmillan | Published : New York


Introducing four psychologies of unemployment and their implications for intervention (2012-12-20)
Mahendran, Kesi
In: Kieselbach, Thomas and Mannila, Simo eds. Unemployment, Precarious Work and Health - Research and Policy Issues (pp. 53-71)
ISBN : 978-3-531-18509-5 | Publisher : VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften | Published : Germany


The transition of a Scottish Young Persons’s Centre — a dialogical analysis (2003)
Mahendran, Kesi
In: Grant, Colin B. ed. Rethinking Communicative Interaction: New Interdisciplinary Horizons. Pragmatics and Beyond New Series (pp. 235-256)
ISBN : 978 90 272 5358 3 | Publisher : John Benjamins | Published : Amsterdam/Philadelphia


Discursive Governance in Politics, Policy and the Public Sphere (2015-09-01)
Korkut, Umut; Mahendran, Kesi; Bucken-Knapp, Gregg and Cox, Robert Henry eds.
ISBN : 9781137495778 | Publisher : Palgrave Macmillan | Published : Basingstoke