Identity, influence, and change: Rediscovering John Turner's vision for social psychology

University of Exeter, Devon, UK University of St. Andrews, Fife, Scotland, UK Australian National University, Australian Capital Territory, Australia.
British Journal of Social Psychology (Impact Factor: 1.76). 03/2012; 51(2):201-18. DOI: 10.1111/j.2044-8309.2011.02091.x
Source: PubMed


John Turner, whose pioneering work on social identity and self-categorization theories changed the face of modern social psychology, died in July 2011. This unique virtual special issue celebrates Turner's life and work by reproducing a number of key articles that were published in the British Journal of Social Psychology and the European Journal of Social Psychology over the course of his career. These articles are of three types: first, key position papers, on which Turner was the leading or sole author; second, papers that he published with collaborators (typically PhD students) that explored key theoretical propositions; third, short commentary papers, in which Turner engaged in debate around key issues within social psychology. Together, these papers map out a clear and compelling vision. This seeks to explain the distinctly social nature of the human mind by showing how all important forms of social behaviour - and in particular, the propensity for social influence and social change -are grounded in the sense of social identity that people derive from their group memberships. As we discuss in this editorial, Turner's great contribution was to formalize this understanding in terms of testable hypotheses and generative theory and then to work intensively but imaginatively with others to take this vision forward.

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    ABSTRACT: We review John Turner’s contribution to social psychology and his ongoing influence on the field. We provide an account of his research and theorising framed by the two major theoretical frameworks which he developed: social identity theory (together with Henri Tajfel) and self-categorisation theory. We elaborate the contribution of his work in developing an understanding of intergroup relations (in social identity theory) and specifying the social nature of the self, the salience of social identities, and of the importance of social identity for social influence, stereotyping, power, and leadership (within self-categorisation theory). We then locate these research programmes within Turner’s broader meta-theoretical goal of addressing major problems, issues, and themes within social psychology. These centre on (a) a critique of the pervasive anti-collectivism within much of social psychology, (b) a normative/political agenda for social change, and (c) a commitment to the social nature of the individual mind. These themes explicitly or implicitly infused his research and continue to inspire much of the work in the theoretical tradition that he pioneered.
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    ABSTRACT: During the past 20 years, practices in social psychology have drifted toward the publication of brief research reports as the main outlet for empirical findings, resulting in an exponential increase of the number of publications in our field. Recent developments questioning the reliability of these findings have increased the focus on (methodological) details and have prompted efforts to establish the robustness of isolated phenomena. Both types of developments carry the danger of impeding rather than promoting progress in the field. We can only build a cumulative knowledge base when we succeed in connecting these dots. Developing and examining broader theories about psychological processes and their implications can help connect different insights and elucidate their further implications in a way that can be used and understood within and beyond the boundaries of our discipline. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
    No preview · Article · Feb 2013 · European Journal of Social Psychology
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