Democracy as an Achievement: Recognizing Tensions, Challenges, and Aspirations through Political Psychology
‘Democracy is an achievement’ noted psychologist Donald Winnicott in 1950 (p.186), a milestone for our societies similar to individual psychic development and maturity. Seeing democracy as an achievement invites us to appreciate that it takes time, requires hard work that is individual and collective, goes hand in hand with responsibility, and like personal development, it is an unfinished project. In essence Democracy as an achievement is a political psychology affair: it involves managing tensions, addressing challenges, enabling growth and supporting aspirations that are simultaneously unique, as well as shared; and it involves processes that take place at the intrapersonal, interpersonal, and socio-political levels.
In the last decade alone, the Great Recession, the challenges of forced migration, issues of security, climate change, the “public knowledge” crisis, pandemics and natural disasters have exacerbated existing rifts and resentments in societies around the globe, and facilitated the rise of populist parties and movements. Current debates on backlash politics and polarizing sentiments often refer to authoritarianism, reactionism, populism, far-right politics, anger, fear, ressentiment, nativism, and collective narcissism as the challenges of our modern societies. Crises of institutional trust, abuses of power by ’omnipotent’ leadership, the escalation of intra- and inter-state conflicts, terrorism and the devastation of war test our values of empathy, security and tolerance through violence and greed. The development of democracy in societies around the world is ongoing, and much like individual psychic development, it requires acknowledging frustrations, respecting differences, and seeking pro-social solutions.
Recognizing that political and psychological wellbeing is intertwined, political psychology offers a comprehensive conceptual and empirical investigation of pressing challenges, tensions and crises through interdisciplinary exchange of knowledge and expertise. It brings together scholars from political science, psychology, sociology, ethnic studies, anthropology, history, economics, history, media and communication studies and philosophy who study the intersection of the ‘political’ and ‘psychological’, and examine how individuals, groups, institutions and states understand the past, how they appreciate the present, and how they imagine the future.
The theme of the 2022 Scientific meeting of the International Society of Political Psychology (ISPP) is ”Democracy as an Achievement: Recognizing Tensions, Challenges, and Aspirations through Political Psychology.” Our destination of choice is Athens, Greece, one of the world’s oldest cities, with rich heritage, histories and cultures spanning 3,400 years, the birthplace of democracy, and now a cosmopolitan metropolis that is the southernmost capital of Europe.
Our annual meeting offers a stimulating interdisciplinary space to engage in presentations, discussions, networking and potential collaborations. It hosts keynote talks, paper panels, workshops, and roundtables which provide dialectical accounts on diverse methods and perspectives. We particularly welcome students, early career scholars, practitioners and researchers. In addition to academic sessions and social events, we hold mentoring sessions, a “Meet the Editors” panel (of our journal, Political Psychology), the Scholars Under Threat symposium, and the ISPP Academy, our political psychology training program held just prior to the conference.
The call for proposals for individual papers, symposia including several papers, roundtable discussions, and blitz presentations and posters on any topic in political psychology will be available on our ISPP website In October 2021. The submission deadline is 6 December 2021, and presenters will be notified of their submissions’ acceptance in February 2022.
Join us in Athens 2022, share your knowledge, engage with political psychologists, and be part of this experience with us.
Dr. Tereza Capelos, Dr. Stavroula Chrona, Dr. Alex Theodoridis