Thursday 7.5.

Sally Wiggins

Associate Professor, Linköping University

Associate professor Sally Wiggins is a distinguished pedagogue and she has extensive expertise in discursive psychology. Her research examines the ways in which social relationships form in everyday social situations and through discursive processes. She has particularly focused on understanding the nuances of social interactions that occur when eating during family meal times and in student interaction within problem-based learning. Wiggins has shown that evaluating personal experiences and related psychological processes is a central and consequential part of social cooperation. Wiggins has published her work in numerous renowned social psychological journals and her contribution to qualitative research method literature has been significant.

Keynote: On how the psychological becomes the social in everyday eating practices

In this presentation, I will discuss the ways in which psychological concepts associated with eating practices, such as food preferences, become social in everyday interaction. They become (or, it may be argued, already are) social not only because they have relevance for other people, but also through the discursive and embodied practices in which we enact them. For example, we can talk about our ‘likes’ and ‘dislikes’, to accept or refuse food, or to identify with other people. We can also use non-lexical vocalisations – the lipsmacks, mmms, and ­urghs – to enact food pleasure or disgust. When feeding young infants, parents can use these vocalisations to enact tasting on behalf of their infant; so that even the bodily sensations of eating can become social. The aim of the talk is not only to demonstrate how apparently individual, psychological concepts are inherently social but also to exemplify the importance of examining the details of everyday social interaction.

Kenneth J. Gergen

Professor, Swarthmore College

Professor Kenneth J. Gergen is one of the most revolutionary and remarkable social psychologists of our time. He is a major figure in the social constructionist movement which proposes that we create the world in which we want to live and work in through social and relational processes. Professor Gergen is particularly known for his theoretical thinking, but he is also a founding member and the President of the Taos Institute, whose mission is to apply the construct of reason, knowledge, and human value in relational, collaborative and appreciative practices. Professor Gergen’s research on postmodernism, contemporary issues, social change, as well as developments in psychotherapy and educational practices have received wide appreciation around the world. He is also recognized as an inspiring lecturer and has received numerous appointments and awards from several foundations, institutes and associations around the world.

Keynote: From Social Relations to Relational Process: Challenge and Consequence

Social psychology has long been dominated by an individualist ontology in which human behavior is understood in terms of individual psychological functioning. On this account, social behavior is simply one class of psychologically based behavior among many, thus relegating the discipline of social psychology to a secondary status. Social interaction is simply the result of two or more individuals acting in relationship to each other. I will explore the potentials of reversing the ontology, thus placing relational process in the center of concern, with psychological process a secondary derivative. Because we as social scientists cannot step outside relational process in order to study it, a shift is required in what constitutes both research and knowledge. The result, however, is a field of study with far greater consequence for human well-being.

Friday 8.5.

Inga Jasinskaja-Lahti

Professor, University of Helsinki

Professor Inga Jasinskaja-Lahti’s is a professor of social psychology at the University of Helsinki and her exceptional research work has been greatly appreciated by both Finnish and international audiences. In her research, professor Jasinskaja-Lahti has focused on investigating intergroup contacts, immigration and integration. Her interests are particularly in the dynamics of social relations, perceived inequalities, racism and discrimination, as well as in the acculturation and adaptation of immigrants. She has published extensively in both Finnish and international scientific journals and actively participates in social psychological and related field conferences around the world. Professor Jasinskaja-Lahti is also an associate Editor of the Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology and the International Journal of Intercultural Relations.

Keynote: How social relations become politisized in the migration context

For decades, social relations in the context of migration have been studied with a focus on intergroup contact as a means to promote positive intergroup relations, particularly immigrant integration. In my talk, I suggest to look at social relations in the context of immigration through the concept of psychological contract (PC) between minority and majority group members regarding the terms and conditions of an exchange agreement of mutual respect and integration. The acts of violation of this contract are monitored by the officials and both parties of the contract (i.e. minority and majority group members). The violation of psychological contract could be evidenced in discrimination perceived by minority group members or unloyalty towards the receiving society as perceived by the majority group members. Our research shows the detrimental effects of perceived psychological contract violation (PCV) on immigrants’ psychological and social well-being and national identification, but also on intergroup trust and attitudes among both minority and majority group members towards each other. Moreover, while perceived PCV can mobilise immigrants to confront injustice, it seems to hamper majority group’s willingness to support immigrants in their attempts to achieve recognition and social mobility.

Tom Postmes

Professor, University of Groningen
Professor Tom Postmes is one of the most significant social psychologists of our time. He has done extensive researched on the central themes of social psychology, including human behavior, social interaction, group phenomena and social identity. His latest pioneering research work involves investigating social interactions in the online environment. Professor Postmes has achieved multiple awards from different scientific institutes and he is an active figure in many prolific research projects. During the past years, professor Postmes has worked as a key collaborator in several research projects of ministries with the goal of recognizing societal discontent and social unrest in The Netherlands.
Keynote: On how social relations are regulated online
In everyday conversations, people use subtle diplomatic skills to maintain harmony and avoid disagreement. Responsiveness conveys agreement and good relations. In contentious situations, conflict can be avoided by voicing opinions ambiguously or evasively. Our research shows that online media, especially text-based ones, lack responsiveness and contain more unambiguous messages. This can be misattributed to social insensitivity and bluntness. Our research confirms that even when attitudes online are not polarized objectively, communicators can experience more polarization and less solidarity. The talk ends by discussing implications for communication in the corona era.