eye on society

Applying the Concepts and Methods of Organisational Psychology to Society

This website was set up to disseminate and discuss research on psychological aspects of society.

More specifically, the aim was, and is, to publish and discuss studies which throw light on the operation of society as a whole and the steps that need to be taken to improve its functioning.

The domain lies at the interface between sociology, psychology, politics, and economics.

Full List of Published & Unpublished
Books and Articles

NEW
click to view online, download as PDFs, or order from publishers.
For the full text of many articles referred to on this site in an interactive
(Wikipedia-style) format, please visit the Forum

An Outline of Prof. John Raven's
Standard Four Part Seminar

with links to relevant publications and articles.

The concerns of the studies we wish to promote are perhaps best illustrated in the author's New Wealth of Nations: A New Enquiry into the Nature and Origins of the Wealth of Nations and the Societal Learning Arrangements Required for a Sustainable Society, the work of the American Committee on the Political Economy of the Good Society (and its journal The Good Society), and the writings of Robert E. Lane, Stafford Beer, Meadows et al, and Murray Bookchin.[1].

As things have developed, it has emerged that the research we wish to promote needs to be organised around three main focii

  1. How to create a pervasive climate of innovation in society . a climate of innovation which will promote the widespread changes that are needed if we are to radically change our way of life;
  2. How to create a public management system which will act on information in an innovative way in the long term public interest instead of the short term interests of dominators;
  3. How to map, measure, harness, and intervene in the network of invisible social (socio-cybernetic) forces that have the future of mankind in their grip and are currently heading us toward extinction at an exponentially increasing rate.

For reasons discussed in endnote [1], it has, in the past, proved extremely difficult to get appropriate research conducted in the first place and even more difficult to get the results of such research as it has been possible to conduct published. Accordingly, we plan to publish contributions with minimal prior review.

At this point in the course of developing this website a more specific, more urgent, but yet wider, objective emerged. Many of the previous papers in the area had been published in obscure journals. The author had therefore adopted the practice of taking photocopies of a limited number of these papers to conferences and distributing them to participants. How much better it would be if these papers could be available on the Web so that seminar participants and others could download those they wanted. Plus it should surely be feasible to make it possible for readers to comment on those papers and post their own.

At this point, a further "distraction" intruded. The author had been in the habit of offering seminars dealing with other aspects of his work and supporting those seminars with hard copies of previous publications and lists of references. How much easier it would be if these, too, could be included in this Website.

The result is that this website, as it stands, outlines, and gives links to the research cited in, a four part seminar, only the fourth of which relates directly to the objectives this website was originally set up to pursue [2].

In the end, we seem almost to have two sites: A, rather comprehensive, "static", non-interactive, site (in which the materials are, on the whole arranged according to the order of presentation in the Standard Four Part Seminar), and an "interactive" site - or Forum - in which the order in which the first materials presented are, by and large, those that are most problematic and important.

It is greatly hoped that readers will use the Forum to raise topics for discussion within these articles and post related articles of their own.

The structure of the static site is as follows. It opens with a list of relevant forthcoming Events. This is followed by an outline of the Standard Four Part Seminar and the Resources (including downloadable handouts and publications) available to support it. The site concludes with an extremely valuable table which lists all publications mentioned on the site but in which published and unpublished articles relating to our original objectives are given special attention. In each case the table shows where each article can be found and, in most cases, includes a clickable link taking the reader to a PDF of the article or book in question. Should you, as we hope, wish to comment on these articles, please go to the "interactive" component of the site by clicking on the "Forum" button, registering as a participant, and inserting comments following the procedures with which so many people have become familiar as a result of the development of the "Wikipedia".

Please note that that this site does not set out to provide a narrative account of my areas of work and the conclusions which emerge from it. Such an account, together with a list of most of my publications, will be found at our sister site www.johnraven.co.uk

ENDNOTE 1
Although the previous paragraph seems relatively bland, there are many reasons why publications of the kind we wish to promote are unlikely to be accepted by mainstream journals. These include the fact that the conclusions to be drawn often involve going beyond the data collected to infer their wider implications, and setting out to discuss all the short and long term, personal and social, desired and desirable outcomes of a course of action instead of, as in reductionist science, focussing on the accuracy of a single measurement. Interestingly, Rothschild had underlined many of the problems we face when working in this area in the course of reviewing the arguments for and against maintaining the Social Science Research Council in Great Britain and the way in which projects should be funded. While underlining the great need for studies which would engage with the wider problems of society, he noted that most of the research that got done was too small scale, too literature-driven instead of problem driven, too narrow in its conceptualisation, and much more concerned to be accurate about trivia than to engage with important, multiply determined, issues. This process was aided and abetted by journal editors and reviewers who could always find reasons for not publishing research which was adventurous, engaged with new issues, and came to conclusions which emerged from the data rather than being strictly proved within it.

References

ENDNOTE 2
Our experience has been that it is very difficult to generate interest in the scientific study of the societal issues we are concerned with here if one seeks to dive into them directly. Instead it has proved more productive to work up to them by beginning by reviewing recent work in a well established area and then working out from that to wider aspects of competence and then the reasons why well intentioned public policy generally fails to pursue its goals.

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