Thursday, December 15, 2011


Many people feel, at times, that they are not making a difference in the world.  Everyone, sometimes, feels unimportant.  It is a state associated often with a 'victim mentality', where we see ourselves as being 'acted upon' by the world, and powerless to influence the world around us.

Social psychology has much to say about the relationship between your self and the world that surrounds it.  Burkitt (1999) suggests a view which sees the self as:

1. Productive (i.e. you can do things to change your life)
2. Communicative (i.e. you can use words and gestures to make your point)
3. Powerful (i.e. you can change the conditions of your life)
4. Thinking (i.e. you are able to plan how you perform points 1 to 3)

Psychology is often accused of leading to a fatalistic view, where a person says 'I can't help myself - my mind is just like that!'  Social psychology can offer a different perspective, in which we see ourselves as agents of change.  Instead of seeing psychology as explaining actions, we can see psychology as action itself.

Given this perspective, we can ask ourselves:

1. How shall I interact with the world?
2. How shall I communicate with the world?
3. How shall I interact with, and challenge, existing social structures?
4. How can I use my ability to plan and be creative to perform 1, 2 and 3?

Further reading/links: