Professor Stephen Reicher delivers guest lecture on individuality and collectivity

The Department of Psychology, School of Social Sciences, welcomed Professor Stephen Reicher, who delivered a guest lecture on some of his world-leading research.

Camera icon
Professor Stephen Reicher

On Wednesday 2 May the School of Social Sciences welcomed Professor Stephen Reicher, world leader in crowd psychology, to give a characteristically engaging and provocative guest lecture - Collectivity and individuality: on the psychology and the politics of a false duality.

Steve Reicher, who is currently a Wardlaw Professor of Psychology at the University of St. Andrews, was introduced by Vice Chancellor Edward Peck. Steve has previously collaborated on research with Clifford Stevenson, a Reader from the Department of Psychology.

Steve's talk addressed a core dynamic which lies at the heart of many social science disciplines: the dichotomy between the individual and the collective. Taking the example of how 'the crowd' has been understood across different historical periods, Steve claimed that early social science approaches to collective behaviour often pitted the rational, logical individual against the emotional and irrational 'mob'. He argued that while the 18th, 19th and 20th Centuries illustrated the terrifying and destructive potential of crowds, it also demonstrated the necessarily collective basis of resistance to tyranny and emancipation. Steve then provided a fascinating review of his own work on a range of investigations of collective behaviour which illustrate the transformative effect of group identity on the thoughts and actions of its members.

From the recent 'BBC Prison Experiment' conducted with Professor Alex Haslam (also in attendance at the event) to studies of football crowd policing and the investigation of pilgrims' experiences of mass gatherings in India, Steve demonstrated how groups enable their members to collectively express, enact and 'make real' their social identities. On this basis, he argued, the dichotomy between individual and group is a false one: groups are necessary to lend meaning to individual enterprise and to realise thoughts and actions.

The lecture was particularly popular with Psychology staff and students as his world leading research is used throughout the undergraduate Psychology suite of courses.

After the lecture, Steve answered a variety of questions from the audience, giving further insight into his fascinating research.

Find out about upcoming events within the School of Social Sciences.

Professor Stephen Reicher delivers guest lecture on individuality and collectivity

Published on 5 June 2018
  • Category: Current students; School of Social Sciences

Still need help?

+44 (0)115 941 8418