ArticlePDF Available

Meaning-making, mattering, and thriving in community psychology: From co-optation to amelioration and transformation

Psychosocial Intervention 23 (2014) 151-154
Psychosocial Intervention
Psychosocial Intervention
Intervención Psicosocial
Vol. 23, No. 2, August 2014
ISSN: 1132-0559
1132-0559/ © 2014 Colegio Oficial de Psicólogos de Madrid. Producido por Elsevier España, S.L. Todos los derechos reservados.
Meaning-making, mattering, and thriving in community psychology:
From co-optation to amelioration and transformation
La adquisición de significado, valoración y prosperidad en la psicología comunitaria: de la
cooptación a la mejora y la transformación
Isaac Prilleltensky*
University of Miami, U.S.A.
Community psychology is not a monolithic entity. While united
by a set of values, theories, and principles, researchers and
practitioners around the world engage in multifarious activities in
the name of community psychology. Given that community needs
vary greatly around the world, this is expected. United by the pursuit
of meaning, mattering and thriving, community psychologists adopt
diverse approaches in diverse contexts. In this paper I wish to capture
the relationships among meaning-making, mattering and thriving,
and to offer a continuum that goes from co-optation to transformation,
with amelioration as its center point. As I do so, I will draw on the
papers published in this special issue to illustrate the principles that
unite us, the risks that beset us, and the promises that excite us.
Meaning-Making, Mattering, and Thriving
I wish to propose that human beings engage in meaning-making
through their struggles to matter and to thrive (Frankl, 2006).
Meaning-making positions human beings as agents of personal and
collective change. People make meaning in different ways obviously,
but I want to suggest that most of these ways revolve around
mattering and thriving, which entail fairness and wellness,
respectively (Prilleltensky, 2012). There is a lot of evidence that
people will go to great lengths to pursue fairness for themselves,
their loved ones, their communities, and their countries (Corning,
2011; Greene, 2013; Sun, 2013). This is a sign of the power of
mattering. Similarly, there are many indications that people will
strive to achieve wellness in various domains of life – a clear
indication of the struggle to thrive (Buettner, 2010; Segall & Fries,
2011). I submit that for many people, the struggle for mattering and
thriving is what makes life worth living. The reason I have confidence
in this hypothesis is that mattering and fairness on one hand (Greene,
2013; Sun, 2013), and thriving and wellness on the other (Prilleltensky
et al., in press; Rath & Harter, 2010), encompass a wide array of
human activity. To further my claim, I will briefly elaborate on the
many faces of mattering and thriving.
Mattering is fundamentally about the feeling that you count,
and that you are important (Schlossberg, 1989; Taylor & Turner,
2001). Phenomenologically, this may be experienced as a feeling
that “I matter.” Mattering can be broken down into two essential
moments: recognition and impact. The moment of recognition
refers to signals we receive from the world that our presence
matters, that what we have to say has meaning and that we are
acknowledged in the room, in our family, at work, and in the
community at large. The moment of impact, in turn, refers to our
sense of agency; that what we do makes a difference in the world
and that other people depend on us.
Each one of these two moments exists along a continuum. The
moment of recognition has at one end a sense of entitlement and at
the other a feeling of invisibility. Neither extreme is healthy for
personal or collective well-being. We need to feel recognized,
acknowledged, and appreciated in good measure, without demanding
too much attention or privilege at the expense of others. At the same
time, we must avoid the feeling of invisibility, which plagues so
many minorities and oppressed communities. Feeling ignored,
neglected, and forgotten is a terrible violation of a psychological
human right. Let me suggest then that we must struggle to find the
happy medium of recognition. This is fundamentally a question of
justice and fairness, which I will address after we attend to the
continuum of impact.
Impact refers to making a difference in the world. In psychological
parlance, we often refer to it as self-efficacy, or the feeling that we
are capable of making a difference, mastering a new skill, and
influencing the course of events in our lives and in the world. We feel
that we matter when we can make a difference. Two extremes
threaten the health of mattering: domination and helplessness.
While the former signals a need for complete control over the
environment and other people, the latter refers to powerlessness and
the inability to make a difference. In helplessness, no matter what
we do or think, we feel doomed.
Recognition and impact, the two branches of mattering, emanate
from principles of justice and practices of fairness. For the purpose
of this essay, I will refer to justice as a series of principles, and
fairness as a set of practices meant to enact precepts of justice.
Viewed this way, recognition is part of demanding what is due a
person, a classic instance of distributive justice. In this case, what is
Versión en castellano disponible en [Spanish version available at]:
1132-0559/ © 2014 Colegio Ofi cial de Psicólogos de Madrid. Producido por Elsevier España, S.L.U. Todos los derechos reservados.
152 I. Prilleltensky / Psychosocial Intervention 23 (2014) 151-154
due may be a subjective good, such as attention, acknowledgement,
or respect; or an objective good, such as health insurance, or
educational resources, such as books and computers. In this vein, a
person may feel recognized to the extent that he or she is the
recipient of subjective or objective goods that are due him or her
through the enactment of fair practices in society.
Impact, the second branch of mattering, is also a matter of justice.
While recognition reflects the moment of getting attention, respect,
and dignity, impact reflects the moment of doing and acting on the
world. Here also we can talk about impact as a matter of justice. If we
think about the right to vote, it is a matter of justice to give men and
women equal opportunities to elect officials. Both have the right to
express their opinion. In this case we can talk about voting as the
legitimate due of both men and women. Whereas distributive justice
refers primarily to the fair allocation of goods and obligations,
procedural justice refers to fair processes. Voting is an expression of
procedural justice. Giving people a voice in matters that affect their
lives is an act of fairness.
Thus, principles of distributive and procedural justice, and their
corresponding practices of fairness, play a role in mattering through
the moments of recognition and impact. Whereas distributive and
procedural justice may be called substantive forms of justice, they are
enacted in various situational forms of justice, such as interpersonal
relations, occupational settings, community contexts, and policy
arenas. In workplaces for instance, people may feel recognized or
ignored, helpless or influential, valued or forgotten. The same goes
for entire groups of people who feel their rights have been forgotten,
such as many people with disabilities around the world. When taken
as a whole, the struggle for substantive forms of justice in diverse
situations makes it clear that mattering, through recognition and
impact, is a consequential motivator of human behavior. Community
psychologists are right in aligning themselves with the struggles of
oppressed minorities, for their pursuit of meaning-making is tied to
their struggle for mattering.
The second pillar of meaning-making, in my view, is the pursuit
of thriving (Buettner, 2010; Seligman, 2011). This is the quest for
well-being that also propels so much action in humans. Well-being,
or wellness, is a multidimensional construct encompassing
interpersonal, community, occupational, psychological, physical, and
economic domains (Prilleltensky et al., in press). People always strive
to improve their lot in one or more of these domains of life. Having
enough money, harmonious relationships, friendly communities,
little stress, vitality, and a good job are goals that many of us share.
Community psychologists are well justified in investing time,
resources, and expertise in advancing well-being in these domains
with partners throughout the world. As a profession, we are
responding to valid and pressing human concerns.
The present special issue of Psychosocial Intervention demonstrates
community psychology’s commitment to advance meaning-making,
mattering, and thriving. The work by Balcazar and colleagues with
people with disabilities focuses on occupational well-being, whereas
the work of Genkova, Trickett, and Birman on immigration
concentrates on family, social, and psychological well-being of
émigrés from the former Soviet Union. Sabina, Cuevas, and Lannen
deal with interpersonal, psychological, and physical well-being of
Latino Women following interpersonal victimization. Finally, the
work of Worton and colleagues on the Better Beginnings Better
Futures is an exemplary ecological community intervention
promoting psychological, educational, social, and physical well-
being of children.
Contributions to the special issue also deal with mattering and
social justice issues. Hernández Plaza and colleagues address
asymmetrical power relations in regards to access to maternal-child
healthcare for marginalized communities. Here is a prime example
of distributive injustice in allocation of goods and services. Two
papers deal quite explicitly with procedural justice questions. The
work by de Freitas and collaborators documents international
approaches to include minorities and migrants in the process of
creating health policies. The challenges and successes of doing so in
a variety of European countries reminds us of how hard it is to create
sustainable and engaging processes, and how rewarding it can be
when they afford authentic voice to marginalized groups. The work
of McAuliff and her group attempts to give voice to consumers of a
new managed care initiative in Illinois. While the effort to collect
data from marginalized communities is commendable, it is not
unproblematic. In some instances, collecting data for a program,
without challenging the program, may be seen as a form of co-
optation, a risk faced as well by the work of Balcazar and colleagues
on tacitly supporting an entrepreneurship model for people with
disabilities. While generating employment for people with
disabilities is vitally important, uncritically endorsing an
entrepreneurship model is risky (Armstrong, 2005). Both of these
cases raise the specter of co-optation, which leads us to the next
Co-optation, Amelioration, and Transformation
The relationship between community psychology interventions
and unjust systemic structures may be organized along a continuum.
On one end of the continuum there is the risk of co-optation, leading
to the possibility of aligning ourselves, however unwittingly, with
conservative forces. Co-optation comes in many forms (Baur &
Schmitz, 2012; Coy & Hedeen, 2005; Gray, 2010). One form is
adopting methods without the social critique. Another form is
changing the system only minimally to silence dissent while
maintaining fundamental inequities intact. A third way is to change
the language without changing the system. Thus, many programs
embrace the idiom of empowerment without really giving much
voice and choice to people who need it most. Advancing wellness
without fairness dilutes the mission of community psychology and
exposes our discipline to the risk of acquiescence (Prilleltensky,
2012). We might argue that co-optation is not a desirable outcome of
community psychology interventions, unless the co-optation is
strategic and temporary and might lead to transformative efforts in
the long run.
Some papers in this special issue walk a fine line between
augmenting the voice of marginalized communities and buying into
neoliberal, individualistic, and rather conservative approaches to
well-being. The paper on an empowerment model of entrepreneurship
for people with disabilities (Balcazar et al., this issue) does not
challenge at all the entrepreneurship model of upward mobility
(Armstrong, 2005), or its likelihood of success, which is very much
limited (Surowiecki, 2014). This model believes that anyone can
create a business, generate jobs, and achieve the “American dream,”
without much regard for social and economic conditions. It is a
model built on personal drive, motivation, achievement, optimism,
and individual pursuit, which are not necessarily negative attributes,
unless they cloud the social context of inequality, which the
entrepreneurship model does.
Another paper that draws attention to the issue of co-optation
concerns the perspectives of consumers on the Illinois Integrated
Care Pilot (McAuliff et al., this issue). The paper details the
empowering and disempowering aspects of the new program, but
does not necessarily challenge the unjust nature of a system of care
that excludes so many people from accessing the help they need.
While listening to consumers is an act of procedural justice,
neglecting the larger distributive justice question is a serious
omission. On the face of it, there is nothing wrong and many good
things about consulting with users of services, but doing so without
challenging the unjust structures of health care put in place without
consultation with consumers in the first place might be seen as co-
I. Prilleltensky / Psychosocial Intervention 23 (2014) 151-154 153
Although Hernández Plaza and her collaborators do not expand
on it, they hint at the fact that cultural competencies on the part of
health care professionals cannot do much in the face of systemic
discrimination (this issue). This is a useful reminder that attention to
some practices, such as cultural competence, can be very good on
one hand and distracting on the other. If cultural competence is not
accompanied by strategies to challenge the system of oppression it
can become a controversial practice, which is what I think the
authors were trying to say in their paper on inequalities in maternal-
child healthcare.
I, as a community psychologist, I’m not immune to this risk myself
and I do not want to convey an illusion that I’m beyond it by critiquing
other people’s work. My goal is to sensitize all of us to the risks
involved in getting too close to institutional structures that reward
some of our skills as researchers while suppressing others, such as
change agents. This is a reality that many of us in community
psychology contend with (Burton, 2013). We aim to transform
society, but sometimes we get too close for comfort with rigid
institutional structures, and instead of challenging oppressive
structures we settle for amelioration, which is, in my view, the
biggest field of operation of our discipline.
Along with other colleagues, I have used in the past the heuristic
of amelioration-transformation to draw attention to the distinction
between working within the system (amelioration) and changing
the system itself (transformation) (Nelson & Prilleltensky, 2010).
Using the language of wellness and fairness, we might say that
improving wellness without improving fairness is ameliorative
work because, in the end, the unjust social conditions that led to
the problems in the first place remain unaltered. While this
heuristic is familiar to community psychologists and builds on the
notions of first and second order change, I now believe that the
dichotomous portrayal of amelioration vs. transformation, or first
vs. second order change does not accurately reflect the complex
nature of systemic change (Burton, 2013; Nelson, 2013). In my view,
it would be better to conceptualize change along a continuum with
many gradients, as opposed to thinking about it in a dichotomous
way. In the present special issue, there is ample material to debate
what is ameliorative, what is transformative, and what lies in
between these two practices. For example, the efforts described by
de Freitas and colleagues (this issue) to transform social policies
promises to go beyond amelioration but we are not certain what
the final outcomes of these efforts will be, and what social
structures will be radically altered as a result of the work. In the
case of the Better Beginnings Better Futures, the authors claim that
the project is well aligned with social justice, but most of the
description is around well-being. No one can doubt that the project
in Ontario has had major policy and practice implications that have
improved the well-being of children and families in the
communities, but more conceptual work needs to be done on the
amelioration-transformation continuum to appreciate the systemic
impact of this terrific project (Worton et al., this issue).
As a collection of papers, it seems to me that the majority of the
work described in this special issue falls under the category of
amelioration, in the sense that through research or interventions,
they all strive to improve well-being but not necessarily challenge
the status quo. Most of them also aim to transform systems of
inequality, but that remains somewhat of an aspirational goal. I
actually think that this sample of papers may be representative of
the field of community psychology: we do mostly ameliorative work,
we hope to do transformative work, and in some instances we even
fall prey to co-optation. Some of the work described here and in
other community psychology outlets is inspiring, provocative, and
beneficial to many people. To what extent it is socially transformational
it is not clear to me. The reason it is not clear, I think, is because we
do not yet have adequate definitions of what transformation looks
like on the ground. Conceptually, we know that instituting
redistributive policies to help poor people, for example, can be
massively transformative, but in the actual day to day work we do
not know quite yet how to detect the transformational value of some
interventions. While the task of mapping the amelioration-
transformation continuum is beyond the scope of this discussion, I
think it is worth the intellectual investment. I think it would be good
to develop an ecological and multidimensional hierarchy of
interventions along the continuum of social change. Some of the
dimensions worth including in such ladder are ecological levels
impacted (personal, family, workplace, community, etc.), domains of
life covered (social, physical, psychological, economic, etc.), time
horizon (short term, long term), sustainability of intervention
(temporary, institutionalized, inscribed in legislation), development
of consciousness-raising (from political helplessness to critical
analysis to strategic thinking), and power imbalance (has power
structure remained the same? has it been altered?). Another way to
think about this continuum of amelioration-transformation is to ask
the What, Who, When, Why and How of transformation. I think that
systematizing an evaluation protocol for the transformative value of
research and action in community psychology will go a long way in
both clarifying the value of what we do, and pushing the field
forward towards more effective interventions for meaning-making,
mattering, and thriving.
I have made an attempt to tackle an aspect of this challenge, namely
the power imbalance, through the construct of psychopolitical validity.
Epistemic psychopolitical validity refers to the role of power and
injustice in explaining psychosocial phenomena of interest to
community psychologists. Transformative psychopolitical validity, in
turn, refers to changes in the balance of power to foster distributive and
procedural justice (Prilleltensky, 2008). Raising awareness about the
need to address power differences, as Hernández Plaza and colleagues
do in the special issue, is an important step in pairing wellness with
fairness and mattering with thriving. Pairing wellness with fairness
brings attention to the nexus between thriving and mattering.
Let me be clear though that no one owns the term transformation,
and some practitioners and researchers may claim that their work is
indeed transformational. The problem is that for some, transformation
is happening only at the individual level, not at the systemic level.
Then, as I suggest above, it may be that the construct of transformation
needs to be further refined for more precision. It may be possible to
talk about individual transformation or group transformation,
without necessarily policy or social transformation. That may be a
more accurate way to describe some interventions. For instance, the
Better Beginnings Better Futures project may be a powerful
individual, school, or community transformation tool, without
necessarily generating social transformation and social justice at the
provincial level.
If we circumscribe transformation to a specific ecological level
(individual, family, workplace, etc.) and within a particular domain
of life (physical health, mental health, occupational well-being, etc.),
we may develop a more precise language for transformation. That
way of thinking may do justice to the transformational efforts of
many community psychologists, without creating the illusion that
everything we call transformation is systems change. I invite
community psychologists to debate the usefulness of this proposal.
Armstrong, P. (2005). Critique of entrepreneurship: People and policy. New York, NY:
Baur, D., & Schmitz, H. (2012). Corporations and NGOs: When accountability leads to
co-optation. Journal of Business Ethics, 106, 9-21. DOI 10.1007/s10551-011-1057-9
Buettner, D. (2011). Thrive. Washington, DC: National Geographic.
Burton, M. (2013). In and against social policy. Global Journal of Community Psychology
Practice, 4, 1-15. Retrieved from (
Corning, P. (2011). The fair society. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
Coy, P., & Heeden, T. (2005). A stage model of social movement co-optation:
Community mediation in the United States. The Sociological Quarterly, 46, 405-435.
Frankl, V. (2006). Man’s search for meaning. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.
154 I. Prilleltensky / Psychosocial Intervention 23 (2014) 151-154
Gray, M. (2010). Social development and the status quo: Professionalisation and Third
Way co-optation. International Journal of Social Welfare, 19, 463-470. doi:
Greene, J. (2013). Moral tribes: Emotion, reason, and the gap between us and them. New
York, NY: Penguin.
Nelson, G. (2013). Community psychology and transformative policy change in the
Neo-Liberal era. American Journal of Community Psychology, 52, 211-223. doi:
Nelson, G., & Prilleltensky, I. (Eds.). (2010). Community psychology: In pursuit of
liberation and well-being. New York, NY: Palgrave/Macmillan.
Prilleltensky, I. (2008). The role of power in wellness, oppression, and liberation: The
promise of psychopolitical validity. Journal of Community Psychology. 36, 116-136.
Prilleltensky, I. (2012). Wellness as fairness. American Journal of Community Psychology,
49, 1-21. doi: 10.1007/s10464-011-9448-8
Prilleltensky, I., Dietz, S., Prilleltensky, O., Myers, N., Rubenstein, C., Jin, Y., & McMahon,
A. (in press). Assessing multidimensional well-being: Development and validation
of the I COPPE scale. Journal of Community Psychology.
Rath, T., & Harter, J. (2010). Wellbeing: The five essential elements. New York, NY: Gallup.
Schlossberg, N. (1989). Marginality and mattering: Key issues in building community.
New Directions for Student Services, 48, 5-15.
Segall, A. & Fries, C. (2011). Pursuing health and wellness. New York, NY: Oxford.
Seligman, M. (2011). Flourish: A visionary new understanding of happiness and well-
being. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster.
Sun, L. (2013). The fairness instinct. Amherst, NY: Prometheus.
Surowiecki, J. (2014, May 19). Epic fails of the startup world. The New Yorker, 36.
Taylor, J., & Turner, R. (2001). A longitudinal study of the role and significance of
mattering to others for depressive symptoms. Journal of Health and Social Behavior,
42, 310-325.
... La vulnerabilidad como herramienta es analítica a la vez que operativa: identificando las diferentes capas a las que los/las jóvenes se hallan expuestos puede trabajarse en pos de resolver cada una de ellas, para el logro de mejores oportunidades para la construcción de la vida y el consiguiente logro de bienestar en múltiples dominios. Se entiende el bienestar como constructo multidimensional que excede la experiencia puramente individual, abarcando la personal, interpersonal, comunitaria, laboral, física y económica (Prilleltensky, 2014), y que resulta útil para analizar y comprender los fenómenos sociales. ...
... Por otro lado, a la influencia generada o el dominio del entorno, es decir, la sensación de producir efectos en los otros, de modificarlos creativamente, de que nuestra presencia aporta a su crecimiento personal, todos estos elementos tributarios de la autoeficacia percibida. Ambos son indicadores de bienestar psico-social (Fernández et al., 2013;Zubieta, 2020;Prilleltensky, 2014). En esta línea, el control del entorno, el establecimiento de relaciones positivas con otros, el crecimiento personal, la integración social y la contribución social -que refiere al grado en el cual las personas califican las actividades que hacen como valiosas o útiles para la sociedad o para otros-dan cuenta del compromiso con las relaciones cercanas y con el ambiente social más amplio. ...
... Se ha definido bienestar como un constructo multidimensional que excede la experiencia puramente individual, abarcando los dominios personal, interpersonal, comunitario, laboral, físico y económico (Prilleltensky, 2014). Se ha utilizado el enfoque eudaemónico para abordar operativamente el concepto de bienestar: toma en consideración la dimensión individual y social, el mundo dado y el mundo inter-subjetivamente construido. ...
Full-text available
Abstract: This investigation is framed in Counseling Psychology theoretical proposals. It explores the meanings and incidence of the passage through the experience of Youth and Children´s Orchestra in the construction of subjective processes related to identity and future project elaboration of a group of young participants. The study is exploratory and descriptive, cross-sectional with a qualitative approach. From an ethnographic approach, based on narrative interviews and participant observation, the experience of 19 young people between 15 and 19 years old was recorded. The two orchestras studied carry on their activities in the Greater Buenos Aires area: La Orquesta Infanto-Juvenil de Hudson (Berazategui), and La Sonora de la IAPI (Quilmes). An inductive thematic content analysis was carried out. The results show that these experiences have a positive impact on their participants, for the construction of valued identities and future projects. The concept of Orchestra Experience was elaborated. Also, recommendations to promote those devices and complementary lines of research are proposed. The value of this research consists of contributing both to the knowledge and analysis of experiences and life situations of historically relegated populations and, consequently, to the general objective of the XXI Century counseling practices, supported by the ideas of sustainability and decent lives. Resumen: La presente investigación se enmarca en los postulados de la Psicología de la Orientación. Explora los sentidos y la incidencia del pasaje por la experiencia de Orquesta Infanto-Juvenil en la construcción de procesos subjetivos, relacionados a la elaboración de la identidad y los proyectos futuros, de un grupo de jóvenes participantes. Este estudio es de tipo exploratorio y descriptivo, de corte transversal, con un abordaje cualitativo. Desde un enfoque etnográfico, a partir de entrevistas narrativas y observación participante, se registró la experiencia de 19 jóvenes entre 15 y 19 años, de dos Orquestas en el Conurbano Bonaerense: La Orquesta Infanto-Juvenil de Hudson (Berazategui) y La Sonora de la IAPI (Quilmes). Se realizó un análisis de contenido temático inductivo. Los resultados permiten postular un impacto positivo de estas experiencias en sus participantes, para la construcción de identidades valoradas y de proyectos de futuro. Se conceptualiza la Experiencia de Orquesta, se postulan recomendaciones para potenciar los dispositivos y líneas de investigación complementarias. Esta investigación contribuye al conocimiento y análisis de experiencias y situaciones de vida de poblaciones históricamente más relegadas y consecuentemente, aporta al objetivo general de las prácticas en Orientación para el siglo XXI, apoyadas en las ideas de sustentabilidad y vidas decentes.
... Mattering is fundamentally the ideal state in which an individual feels as though they are valued and are adding value (Prilleltensky, 2019). According to Prilleltensky (2014), mattering may be regarded as a sense of belonging and can be broken down into two important moments: recognition and impact. Recognition refers to the signs an individual gets from their community or workplace that their existence matters, that what they say holds weight, and their very presence at the table matters to their family, place of work, and in the larger community (Prilleltensky, 2014). ...
... According to Prilleltensky (2014), mattering may be regarded as a sense of belonging and can be broken down into two important moments: recognition and impact. Recognition refers to the signs an individual gets from their community or workplace that their existence matters, that what they say holds weight, and their very presence at the table matters to their family, place of work, and in the larger community (Prilleltensky, 2014). Further, impact refers to one's sense of agency; the decisions one makes have an impression and bearing on the world and people around them. ...
... Further, impact refers to one's sense of agency; the decisions one makes have an impression and bearing on the world and people around them. Prilleltensky (2014) notes that both recognition and impact occur on a continuum; for example, recognition has a high sense of privilege or opportunity at one end and invisibility at the other-it is not simply absent or present. No matter how confident, successful, or intelligent a person is, all humans crave the feeling of mattering and being valued (Prilleltensky, 2019). ...
Burnout is a leading issue in the United States healthcare system today, afflicting approximately 50% of physicians. It is characterized by emotional depletion and loss of energy, a sense of depersonalization, and a reduced sense of individual accomplishment, resulting in withdrawal from occupation. While often regarded as a personal issue, it is clear that burnout arises from organizational factors and therefore, warrants organizational solutions. However, just as well-being is more than just the absence of ill-being, physician flourishing requires more than just treatment of burnout. The HEAL (Hope, Engagement, Action, Lead) model, the subject matter of this paper, is a framework for instituting positive psychology practices to transform medical culture to address burnout and promote well-being for individuals and the healthcare system. This paper introduces the four pillars of HEALing, including specific interventions that may improve organizational cultures and aid in healing the system and the individual clinicians operating within it. Now more than ever in the era of COVID-19, solutions are needed to address this growing problem. Operating through the lens of positive psychology practices, informed by the unique culture of medical practice, healing our healers may be possible.
... Despite decades of surging interest in well-being, there is still a need to understand the role that fairness and justice play in human flourishing (e.g., Greenberg and Colquitt, 2013;Prilleltensky, 2014;Yean, 2016;Di Martino and Prilleltensky, 2020). Although there is a robust literature on the psychology of social justice (Lind, 2020), especially in the context of work (Ybema and van den Bos, 2010), we still lack a full picture of how fairness impacts wellness. ...
... Fairness has been called "the most essential rule in social engagement, " (Sun, 2013 p.17) and conceptualized as justice in action (Prilleltensky, 2014). There is evidence that humans are fundamentally motivated to seek out and appreciate fairness (Montada, 2003;Brosnan and de Waal, 2014). ...
Full-text available
Research has suggested a fundamental connection between fairness and well-being at the individual, relational, and societal levels. Mattering is a multidimensional construct consisting of feeling valued by, and adding value to, self and others. Prior studies have attempted to connect mattering to both fairness and a variety of well-being outcomes. Based on these findings, we hypothesize that mattering acts as a mediator between fairness and well-being. This hypothesis was tested through Covariance-Based Structural Equation Modeling (CB-SEM) using multidimensional measures of fairness, mattering, and well-being. Results from a Latent Path Analysis conducted on a representative sample of 1,051 U.S. adults provide support to our hypothesis by revealing a strong direct predictive effect of mattering onto well-being and a strong indirect effect of fairness onto well-being through mattering. Results also show that mattering is likely to fully mediate the relationship between fairness and multiple domains of well-being, except in one case, namely, economic well-being. These findings illustrate the value of a focus on mattering to understand the relationship between fairness and well-being and to provide future directions for theory, research, and practice. Theoretical implications for the experience of citizenship and participation, along with cross-cultural considerations, are also discussed.
... Families with undocumented members are also at high risk of poverty, which affects their trajectory [77]. This lack of equality may adversely affect their ability to construct social or national identities, further reducing their sense of belonging and ability to form relationships [78,79]. In support of our results, Browne et al. found that Arab immigrant children experienced the highest amount of emotional distress over time compared to other minority groups. ...
Full-text available
Citation: Abu-Ras, W.; Elzamzamy, K.; Burghul, M.M.; Al-Merri, N.H.; Alajrad, M.; Kharbanda, V.A.
... Families with undocumented members are also at high risk of poverty, which affects their trajectory [77]. This lack of equality may adversely affect their ability to construct social or national identities, further reducing their sense of belonging and ability to form relationships [78,79]. In support of our results, Browne et al. found that Arab immigrant children experienced the highest amount of emotional distress over time compared to other minority groups. ...
Full-text available
This study explores the impact of gendered citizenship on the well-being of cross-national families following the political blockade imposed on Qatar in 2017. More specifically, it examines how these families, women, and children face challenges related to their lives, well-being, and rights. Twenty-three face-to-face interviews were conducted with Qatari and non-Qatari women and men married to non-Qatari spouses residing in Qatar. The study’s findings revealed that Qatari women with non-Qatari husbands did not enjoy the benefits of full citizenship, further undermining their psychological well-being and their socioeconomic and legal rights. Additionally, children born before or during the blockade have become stateless and undocumented, which jeopardizes their mental and physical well-being and the prospects of their parents’ economic advancement. This study contributes to the conceptualization of and debate on gender citizenship rules and policies, which can exclude these women and children and deny them the recognition and rights they deserve. Since ensuring full citizenship rights is crucial for people’s well-being, increasing gender equality and reforming Qatar’s existing citizenship policies would benefit both groups and provide social justice for all.
... The construct of mattering supposes that an individual can infer that their existence and actions play a meaningful role in the lives of others and in society (Rosenberg, 1979;Rosenberg & McCullough, 1981). Mattering also accounts for feeling significant; it denotes when one is aware of their worth and has the autonomy to positively impact their world (Prilleltensky, 2014). Conversely, not mattering or "anti-mattering" (Flett, 2018b) spurs feelings of marginalization, subordination, or insignificance within an institution, a community, or in a broader society (Scarpa, Zopluoglu, & Prilleltensky, 2021;Schlossberg, 1989). ...
Full-text available
Inspired by Black Lives Matter activism, we used racialized lenses on social-psychological “mattering” to investigate how Black high school boys’ interactions shaped their perceived mattering. Researchers conducted interviews with 17 self-identified Black boys who were part of a larger school-based partnership called The Black Boy Mattering Project. Participants reported experiencing and resisting interpersonal marginal mattering (e.g., evidenced in negative interactions with educators and peers and fueled by racist stereotypes) and described mattering partially through selective love (e.g., inferring significance through athletics, yet deemed anti-intellectual). Our study exhibits how schools uphold systemic anti-Black racist notions that shape relationships between Black boys and their peers and educators and diminish adolescents’ self-concepts. Implications aim to support educators and researchers in radically affirming Black boys in school contexts.
... At its simplest, the definition of existential mattering is as the self-evaluation regarding the worth and value of their life in the world (George and Park 2014), or fundamentally that 'I matter' (Prilleltensky 2014(Prilleltensky , 2020. This definition implies a reflection on personal, existential self-value, and therefore meaning, going beyond the boundaries of the physical and psychological realms (what is conceived, felt, or perceived) and engaging moral and spiritual dimensions. ...
Full-text available
Humanistic management requires an expansion of economistic management to focus on flourishing for all at work through dignity and well-being. A dignity framework engaging the humanistic management perspective is used to explore mattering in organizational contexts. The framework acknowledges moral and spiritual levels of the human experience and incorporates transcendent and religious motivations, representing a more fully humanistic conception. Existential and interpersonal mattering are linked to various levels of the dignity experience at work, providing a practical way of understanding a highly philosophical concept. Implications of mattering at work for humanistic management research, theory, and practice are discussed. Dignity and mattering provide important, human-centered, relationally-oriented concepts to help us understand how people live and experience their lives at work.
... While valid and high quality, these instruments do not clearly distinguish between feeling and adding value; nor do they assess the experience of mattering across ecological levels. Given that mattering is a documented psychological need taking place across different contexts, and that no single scale captures its ecological nature, we decided to construct a new measure (Prilleltensky, 2014(Prilleltensky, , 2019. ...
Mattering, defined as feeling valued and adding value, is a basic psychological need with significant explanatory power. Although several specific measures have been introduced to assess the construct, no integrated, multidimensional measure exists. This limits the ability of researchers to investigate mattering in ecological contexts. This paper seeks to address this gap by introducing the Mattering in Domains of Life Scale (MIDLS) and evaluating its internal structure and convergent validity. Using data from a single, large U.S. representative sample, the analysis validated the overall hypothesized factor structure, consisting of feeling valued and adding value across the personal, interpersonal, occupational, and community domains, as well as overall mattering. Convergent validity was assessed by comparing the various MIDLS subscales to eight established scales. Overall results provide evidence that the MIDLS is a valid scale measuring an essentially unidimensional construct composed of 8 subdomains. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
This paper explores the personal and professional connections between clinical psychologists in the United Kingdom (UK) and critical/community psychology (CCP). Specifically, it asks how clinical psychologists define the area, how they relate to it and how they apply it in their work. Twenty clinical psychologists responded to an online survey, 12 of whom went on to take part in a follow-up telephone interview. Data were analysed using inductive thematic analysis. The results are divided into three sections: i. "describing CCP": social justice and a questioning stance are considered, ii. "relating to CCP": an interplay between lifespan events and personal responses are described and iii. "applying CCP": a dynamic between role-specific applications and reality checks that either enable or constrain is illustrated. Although the continued need for a CCP is described, the results highlight both challenges and tensions of practising CCP within clinical psychology.
When it comes to field research in contexts of forced migration, many of the challenges relate to questions of power. Most research is plagued by a power imbalance between those who call themselves ‘researcher’ or ‘technical expert’ and the forced migrants who participate in the research in various ways. This Special Section considers how this imbalance influences the production of research and how we might address the challenges created by research practices that are exclusionary, even if unwittingly so. What, for example, are the politics of designing methods for research with/on refugees? What kinds of negotiations and gatekeeping take place in determining the assemblage of actors involved in crafting and carrying out the research? Who has a seat at the table to design the research, interpret results, and write up outcomes? The three contributing articles that follow this introduction each discuss strategies the authors deployed, i.e. how they attempted to upend dominant research practices by centreing the voices of migrants and refugees, and re-balancing power inequities. In this article, we offer an introduction to how this Special Section conceptualizes power in the context of research with forced migrants.
Full-text available
The sponsorship of the entrepreneur as an agent of economic growth is now at the centre of a vast promotional industry, involving politicians, government departments and higher education. This book examines the origins of this phenomenon and subjects its mythologies, hero-figures and policies to an empirically based critical examination.
Full-text available
Full-text available
I present ideas about how community psychologists, as researcher-activists, can influence public policy. I begin by describing the current neo-liberal era, noting the immense obstacles it poses to progressive policy change. Next I contrast two approaches to understanding policy formation, evidence-based policy and discursive policy analysis, and argue that transformative policy change can benefit from both approaches. I then propose three types of policy outcomes that community psychology research and activism should aim to promote: (a) shaping problem definition, (b) controlling channels for debate and participation, and (c) allocating resources. I use examples from community psychologists' involvement in policy, mostly in Canada, to illustrate how such policy change can be both achieved and constrained. I conclude by discussing implications for theory and practice related to policy change.
The purpose of this study was to develop and validate a scale of perceptions of well-being in key areas of life. We developed the I COPPE Scale, which incorporates overall as well as Interpersonal, Community, Occupational, Physical, Psychological, and Economic well-being. A total of 426 U.S. participants provided online responses to the I COPPE Scale and relevant comparison instruments. We used exploratory structural equation modeling to examine the factor structure of responses and document convergent validity by comparing I COPPE Scale scores with comparison instrument scores. We found strong empirical evidence to support the theorized factors. This study fully and reliably assessed the underlying constructs of the I COPPE Scale and provided psychometric evidence of construct validity. The ability of this scale to assess the domains in a single, easy to administer instrument is a potential contribution to the growing body of literature on well-being. C 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Gray M. Social development and the status quo: professionalisation and Third Way co-optation Int J Soc Welfare 2010: 19: 463–470 © 2010 The Author(s), Journal compilation © 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd and International Journal of Social Welfare. Social development is a massive undertaking that has spawned a multitude of organisational forms. It nevertheless remains an ambiguous term and ill-defined area of work, though some social development practitioners have succeeded in making small-scale local differences in particular situations. While largely a tool of the status quo, some believe that social development has transformative potential and provides valuable space to confront inequalities and deprivation. In this article, I argue that in contemporary neoliberal environments social development is being co-opted by Third Way politics and professionalisation processes. As it professionalises through the creation of professional structures and educational systems, it is becoming increasingly like social work, despite arguments that it is as an alternative approach to poverty and social exclusion. In the process, it is losing its transformative, critical edge, and morphing into a neoliberal, social investment approach that absolves government of its responsibility for the welfare of citizens.
The community mediation movement in the United States arose in the late 1970s as an alternative to a formalized justice system that was perceived to be costly, time consuming, and unresponsive to individual and community needs. Community mediation advocates also valued community training, social justice, volunteerism, empowerment, and local control over conflict resolution mechanisms. But over the past quarter century, community mediation has become increasingly institutionalized and has undergone various degrees of co-optation in its evolving relationship with the court system.Drawing on the literatures of dispute resolution, co-optation, and social movements, we analyze the evolution of community mediation and identify the degrees and dimensions of its co-optation. Thus, we develop a four-stage model of co-optation as it has occurred within the community mediation movement, identifying multiple steps in each stage. This analysis facilitates greater understanding of specific events, particular processes, and individual decisions and dilemmas that mediation activists face in their working relationships with their communities and the formal legal system. Further, scholars studying similar processes in other social movements may find that this stage model of co-optation, in whole or in part, is useful to their analyses of other movements.
Student involvement in the life of the college has been found to relate positively to numerous variables, such as satisfaction with college, retention, academic achievement, and loyalty.