I was somewhat alarmed to find myself, as a 70-year-old, suddenly categorised as a member of a particularly vulnerable group. This is a group of people based only on the number of years that they have lived who have been singled out as needing to be extra careful and isolated earlier than others during the Covid-19 pandemic. Of course, this is for the protection of our health and signals society’s concern and protection of members of the population who are clearly more at risk.
As we age, we are more likely to suffer the underlying health issues which also make people more vulnerable to this virus. Unfortunately, using such a crude indicator of vulnerability as age alone has its downside. Categorising people in this way feeds into prejudice against older people and a deficit view of ageing that is already circulating in our society. Such ageist attitudes depict people in terms of their age alone and obscure the huge diversity that actually exists among older people.
On many grant applications, there is space
to describe “career interruptions” to help explain larger gaps on one’s CV.
This is a space usually reserved for parental leaves, medical leaves, or other
such generally government-documented reasons why an academic might have less to
show for a particular amount of time in their career. I wonder about this
space, and what else might occupy it. I wonder about the framing of life as
“interrupting” work, and the implications of the need to constantly prove that
we have been productive enough by way of ink on a page indicating that we’ve
researched and written and had our words accepted by a high-enough tiered
Kristi Urry (University of Adelaide) and Kathryn McGuigan (Massey University) reflect on contributing to the Illness Snapshots Symposium at ISCHP 2019
Ahead of the recent ISCHP conference in Bratislava, Kerry Chamberlain put out a call for contributions to a Snapshots symposium. His challenge, as usual, was for presenters to forgo the traditional 15-minute talk and, instead, present short, sharp and interesting arts-based presentations on issues of health and illness. We both took on this challenge, using it as an opportunity to reflect on and share important personal stories beyond the usual confines of presenting our research as polished, neatly defined scholars. The symposium went well, inspiring a lot of questions and discussion. Contributing to this symposium was also emotionally challenging and, afterwards, we both checked in with each other and reflected on how we felt after our presentations. We came to recognise this conversation, which we continued via email after the conference closed, as both a deeply caring act and a reflexive practice. We felt that it was a conversation worth sharing.
Dr Miroslav Sirota is a senior lecturer in the Department of Psychology at the University of Essex (UK). He mostly conducts experimental, quantitative research and teaches statistics to undergraduate and postgraduate students as well as topics in judgment and decision-making. His lab is part of the Psychological Science Accelerator, an international network of psychological laboratories across the world aiming to conduct large-scale pre-registered studies. He is leading Essex University’s Open Science Working Group, which is part of The UK Network of Open Science Working Groups aiming to implement open science practices in their own research. He currently serves on the editorial boards of Studia Psychologica and Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied.
How did you embark on an academic career? What prompted this path? Funnily enough, I started my academic career by accident. After completing my master’s degree, I applied for a couple of non-academic positions but I was not successful. Fortunately, one of my roommates worked at the newly formed Faculty of Social and Economic Sciences at the Comenius University in Bratislava and she mentioned that they were looking for new teaching staff. I applied for the job there and got it. I mostly taught a first-year introductory psychology module and helped with the delivery of statistics and research methods classes. This caused me to stay in academia and go on to complete a PhD since it was a requirement of the position. I was lucky to have a great supervisor, Dr Alojz Ritomsky, who supported me and helped me to develop a good grasp of research methods and statistics.
Virginia Braun is a Professor in the School of Psychology at The University of Auckland, Āotearoa/New Zealand. She is a feminist and critical (health) psychologist, and teaches and researches in these areas. Her research explores the intersecting areas of gender, bodies, sex/sexuality, health, and (now) food. She has worked on projects related to heterosex, sexual health, cervical cancer prevention policy, sexuality and higher education, women’s genital meanings and experiences, and “female genital cosmetic surgery” (FGCS), pornography, body hair, and contemporary formations of “healthy eating”. Alongside this, she is a qualitative methodology writer (with long-time collaborator Victoria Clarke, and others), writing about qualitative research, thematic analysis, story completion, and a range of other qualitative methods and approaches.
Abi is a Professor of Psychology at the University of Bradford as well as being acting Associate Dean for Research & Knowledge Exchange in the Faculty of Management, Law & Social Sciences and about to become Head of Department. Abigail is a critical social/health psychologist, often applying a discursive lens to her research and has interests around gender, identity, parenting, social media and health. Much of her research work focuses on societal constructions of ‘good’ motherhood’ and ‘good fatherhood’, and she has applied this lens to issues around stay-at-home-dads, advice to parents and infant feeding methods.
We’re looking for allies. We need allies… there are lots of people who’ve had enough and are thinking, feeling, and working in similar directions: it’s not a question of fashion but of a deeper “spirit of the age” informing converging projects in a wide range of fields (Deleuze 1995, 22).
Linda McMullen is Professor Emerita at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, having recently retired after 38.5 years in the department of psychology. She is presently enjoying the sense of liberation that comes from not having to set an alarm clock in the morning, being able to work from home, not having more than one (or sometimes any) appointments in her calendar, and having her golden retriever by her side and a cup of tea at the ready.
Catriona Macleod is an ISCHP international representative from South Africa. She works at Rhodes University where she holds the positions ofDistinguished Professor of Psychology and Chair of the Critical Studies in Sexualities and Reproduction (CSSR) research programme. She is a leader in feminist health psychology and has made significant been in two main areas: sexual and reproductive health and feminist theory in Psychology.
Chris is one of the founding ISCHP members. She is currently Treasurer and has also been Chair. Currently, she is a Professor in the School of Psychology at Massey University in New Zealand–considered the cradle of critical health psychology. She co-leads the Health and Ageing Research Team, who has been conducting a longitudinal study of ageing, following older New Zealanders and their quality of life since 2006. In this Career File, Chris shares how she got to be where she is today.
Searching for open access pictures of menopausal women generates photographs of mainly anxious expressions. Broadly speaking, from this snapshot of instant culture the menopause is often defined by frowny faces; definitely not sexy. This bad mood stereotype might be countered by evidence of non-frowny women on TV programmes, in films and other forms of mass visual culture; except here we note an absence. The 2015 Ofcom report on the BBC highlighted that women over the age of 55 were seen less frequently and more negatively than males of the same age. In the top 100 grossing US films of 2017, there were 33 female leads or co-leads of which only five were over the age of 45. The erasure of mid-life woman from everyday screen cultures is echoed in newspapers and even museum collections. This invisibility linked to silence about experiences and haphazard information sources renders menopause as a taboo subject.
Brett Scholz is a research fellow in the Medical School at
The Australian National University. His work is concerned with consumer
leadership in health services and systems, and the allyship that non-consumers
can engage in to create opportunities for consumer leadership. He is one of the
co-editors of ISCHP’s podcast The Operative Word. He can never say no
to a cup of tea.
John Cromby, in his book Feeling Bodies: Embodying Psychologymakes a strong argument for developing an embodied psychology – ‘one that takes seriously the observation that absolutely all experience depends upon our living bodies for its very character, as well as its mere possibility’ (Cromby, 2015: 7).
As someone who has a severely damaged and dysfunctional body
I feel strongly that we critical health psychologists need to take a lot more
notice of people’s lived experience of their bodies. At times, I think, we get
so deeply embroiled in fascinating analyses of, for example, the misuse of
power, and the need for social justice (to mention just two of our preoccupations)
we fail to take account of the fundamental materiality of being human. But it isn’t that simple, as I explain here.
Dr Tracy Morison moved to Aotearoa (New Zealand) two and a half years ago to join the critical health psychology team at Massey University. She now teaches health promotion and critical social psychology and is also a research associate of the Critical Studies in Sexualities and Reproduction research programme at Rhodes University, South Africa. Find out more about Tracy’s academic journey in this Career File.
How did you embark on a career in academia? What was it that prompted this decision? I didn’t decide to become an academic; I think academia slowly drew me in! In retrospect, I think I was always destined for the academy. I loved learning as a child and was, according to my peers, a ‘boffin’ (as they called Academic achievers then). When I was in grade 4, I I wrote a composition saying I wanted to be ‘an author’ when I grew up. Then, some years later, I explained that I wanted to be a researcher on my honours application. I think academe has allowed me to combine both of these. My love of language led me to qualitative research and in my postgrad years, I also discovered the rewards of teaching and mentoring. So here I am! Continue reading →