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    ABSTRACT: Inclusive, unconstrained and honest communication is widely advocated as beneficial and ethical. We critically explore this assumption by reflecting upon our research in acute care, informal care and public health. Using Habermas' ideals of dialogue to conceptualise ideal speech, we concur with observations that health care is often characterised by intractable exclusions and constraints. Rather than advocating implementing the ideals of dialogue, however, we examine how people adapt to these difficult and intransigent contexts. Non-ideal contexts, we find, sometimes call for non-ideal responses. Deception and furthering personal interests, and thus departing from the ideals of dialogue, can be adaptive responses.
    Journal of Health Psychology 09/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: Against the background of evidence for links between ill-health and prejudice, in this article we discuss how to promote inclusive communities in contexts of diversity. A brief critical overview of dominant psychological approaches to prejudice reduction reveals the apolitical nature of these approaches, and thus, we argue for a more contextual and political model on how to promote inclusive communities. Drawing on examples of different school practices on cultural diversity from across England, we argue that we need to develop a perspective that connects local contexts of everyday practice, resistance and agency to the institutional and structural realities of prejudice.
    Journal of Health Psychology 09/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: This article examines meaning making with nuclear bombs and military manoeuvres. The data is verbatim audio recordings from the White House during the Cuban Missile Crisis. The analysis uses concepts from impression management and dialogism. It is found that actions often speak louder than words and that even non-linguistic communication with nuclear weapons is often oriented to third-parties, in this case, world opinion. A novel process of 'staging the other' is identified, that is, when one side tries to create a situation which will force the other side to act in a way which will create a negative impression on world opinion. Staging the other is a subtle form of meaning making for it entails shaping how third parties will view a situation without those third parties being aware of the intentionality of the communication.
    Integrative Physiological and Behavioral Science 09/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: The article explores the Freirian theory of social change underpinning health-related community mobilisation in poor and marginalised communities. Highlighting potential shortcomings of its essentialist understandings of power and identity, and linear notions of change, it examines how lessons from the 'new left', and burgeoning global protest movements, can rejuvenate the field given the growing complexity of 21st-century social inequalities. It suggests the need for a pastiche of approaches to accommodate health struggles in different times and places. However, while needing some updating, Freire's profound and actionable understandings of the symbolic and material dimensions of social inequalities remain a powerful starting point for activism.
    Journal of Health Psychology 09/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: This special issue celebrates and maps out the 'coming of age' of community health psychology, demonstrating its confident and productive expansion beyond its roots in the theory and practice of small-scale collective action in local settings. Articles demonstrate the field's engagement with the growing complexity of local and global inequalities, contemporary forms of collective social protest and developments in critical social science. These open up novel problem spaces for the application and extension of its theories and methods, deepening our understandings of power, identity, community, knowledge and social change - in the context of evolving understandings of the spatial, embodied, relational, collaborative and historical dimensions of health.
    Journal of Health Psychology 09/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: Community involvement is increasingly identified as a "critical enabler" of an effective HIV/AIDS response. We explore pathways between community participation and HIV prevention, treatment and impact mitigation in Zimbabwe, reviewing six qualitative studies in Manicaland. These find that community group membership is often (not always) associated with decreased HIV incidence, reduced stigma and improved access to some services, particularly amongst women. Participation in formal community groups (e.g., church or women's groups) and informal local networks (e.g., neighbours, families) provides opportunities for critical dialogue about HIV/AIDS, often facilitating renegotiation of harmful social norms, sharing of previously hidden personal experiences of HIV/AIDS, formulation of positive action plans and solidarity to action them. However, implementation of new plans and insights is constrained by poverty, social uncertainty and poor service delivery. Furthermore, dialogue may have negative effects, spreading false information and entrenching negative norms. The extent that formal groups and informal networks facilitate externally imposed HIV/AIDS interventions varies. They potentially provide vital practical and emotional support, facilitating service access, treatment adherence and AIDS care. However, they may sometimes play a negative role in prevention activities, challenging stereotypes about sexuality or gender. There is an urgent need for greater recognition of the role of indigenous community groups and networks, and the inclusion of "strengthening local responses" as a key element of interventions and policy. Such efforts require great sensitivity. Heavy-handed external interference in complex indigenous relationships risks undermining the localism and bottom-up initiative and activism that might be central to their effectiveness. Cautious efforts might seek to enhance the potentially beneficial effects of groups, especially for women, and limit potentially damaging ones, especially for men. Efforts should be made to facilitate contexts that enable groups to have beneficial effects, through nesting them within wider comprehensive responses, and supporting them through strong partnerships with service providers.
    AIDS Care 06/2013; 25 Suppl 1:S114-22.
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    ABSTRACT: Conspiracy theories (CTs) can take many forms and vary widely in popularity, the intensity with which they are believed and their effects on individual and collective behavior. An integrated account of CTs thus needs to explain how they come to appeal to potential believers, how they spread from one person to the next via communication, and how they motivate collective action. We summarize these aspects under the labels of stick, spread, and action. We propose the quasi-religious hypothesis for CTs: drawing on cognitive science of religion, social representations theory, and frame theory. We use cognitive science of religion to describe the main features of the content of CTs that explain how they come to stick: CTs are quasi-religious representations in that their contents, forms and functions parallel those found in beliefs of institutionalized religions. However, CTs are quasi-religious in that CTs and the communities that support them, lack many of the institutional features of organized religions. We use social representations theory to explain how CTs spread as devices for making sense of sudden events that threaten existing worldviews. CTs allow laypersons to interpret such events by relating them to common sense, thereby defusing some of the anxiety that those events generate. We use frame theory to explain how some, but not all CTs mobilize collective counter-conspiratorial action by identifying a target and by proposing credible and concrete rationales for action. We specify our integrated account in 13 propositions.
    Frontiers in Psychology 01/2013; 4:424.
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    ABSTRACT: Abstract As maternal health specialists accelerate efforts towards Millennium Development Goal Five, attention is focusing on how to best improve service accountability to target communities as a strategy for more effective policy implementation. We present a case study of efforts to improve accountability in Orissa, India, focusing on the role of local women, intermediary groups, health providers and elected politicians. We highlight three drivers of success: (1) the generation of demand for rights and better services, (2) the leverage of intermediaries to legitimise the demands of poor and marginalised women and (3) the sensitisation of leaders and health providers to women's needs. We use the concepts of critical consciousness, social capital and 'receptive social spaces' to outline a social-psychological account of the pathways between accountability and service effectiveness.
    Global Public Health 12/2012;
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    ABSTRACT: Dixon et al. have highlighted the importance of a political conceptualisation of intergroup relations that challenges individualising models of social change. As important as this paper is for the development of critical debates in psychology, we can detect at least three issues that warrant further discussion: (a) the cultural and historical conditions of structural inequality and its perception, (b) the marginalisation of post-colonial works on collective mobilisation, and (c) acknowledging the complex perspectives and politics of those targeted by prejudice.
    Behavioral and Brain Sciences 11/2012;
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    ABSTRACT: This paper explores relations between narrative, memory and social representations by examining how social representations express the ways in which communities deal with the historical past. Drawing on a case study of social representations of the Brazilian public sphere, it shows how a specific narrative of origins re-invents history as a useful mythological resource for defending identity, building inter-group solidarity and maintaining social cohesion. Produced by a time-travelling dialogue between multiple sources, this historical narrative is functional both to transform, to stabilise and give resilience to specific social representations of public life. The Brazilian case shows that historical narratives, which tend to be considered as part of the stable core of representational fields, are neither homogenous nor consensual but open polyphasic platforms for the construction of alternative, often contradictory, representations. These representations do not go away because they are ever changing and situated, recruit multiple ways of thinking and fulfil functions of identity, inter-group solidarity and social cohesion. In the disjunction between historiography and the past as social representation are the challenges and opportunities for the dialogue between historians and social psychologists.
    Integrative Physiological and Behavioral Science 10/2012;
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