The Social Psychology of Risk (SPoR) is first and foremost a worldview, a philosophy, disposition, methodology, paradigm and orientation. It is a way of seeing (envisioning) the world through the lens of being, Socialitie and risk.
When one has a methodology, it is relatively straight forward to develop consistent methods that align with that philosophy. A methodology is a philosophy and methods emerge out of a methodology. In SPoR consciousnesses and articulation of philosophy is central to envisioning risk.
Whilst it is relatively easy to deconstruct the failings of various approaches to risk and safety (and perhaps none do it better than the S2 group), it is also critical to reconstruct something better, practical and ethical in its place. This is what a SPoR method does.
There is no point deconstructing a method, myth and methodology unless one has something to replace it, that works. So, it’s important to know what SPoR is and what SPoR isn’t.
SPoR is not an academic idea, although it has academic rigor. SPoR is not about 3 slogans, mantras or another safety dialect yet, language, discourse and Discourse are critical to SPoR. SPoR is not framed, anchored or focused by safety but, it’s framing, anchoring and methods have huge effects on how persons tackle risk. SPoR is not driven by systems-thinking but rather is person-centric, ethics-centric, eco-centric and social-centric. SPoR is not interested in behaviours, measurement or engineering but rather, persons, relationships and risk. SPoR is not a discipline but a multi-modal Trans-discipline that is open to many disciplines outside of engineering and science. SPoR is anchored to a semiotic understanding of culture (Lotman) that transcends the quantification of relations, behaviours and quanta. SPoR is not interested in measurement, controls or counting but rather, relationships, Socialitie and personhood. SPoR centres on being, living and well-being, humanising and the flourishing of persons. SPoR is a proactive positive way of tackling risk that offers an alternative method for tackling risk.
In SPoR we don’t ‘do’ safety but rather safety is the outcome of the way SPoR tackles risk.
SPoR doesn’t focus on hazards and controls but on persons and risk.
If you want to know about a culture or sub-culture, society, group or movement, just analyse/critique their language. Language-in-use is the easiest and best indicator of what a group or person believes. Language emerges out of the unconscious. Language is spoken without thinking. The language that is available to a worldview tells what belief, values and orientation is held. For example, one can brand something ‘differently’ but if the core language is about: performance, engineering, behaviours, systems, capacity, functional measurement, science and Technique (Ellul), then it’s just traditional safety under a different brand.
In analysing cultural linguistics and semiotics, it is also critical to understand the language and semiotics NOT used or spoken. Without an understanding of linguistics or semiotics, it is not likely that one has the foundation required to leap into SPoR.
It is easy to be distracted by brands in safety, it is in Discourse (power in language) that real risk (https://www.humandymensions.com/product/real-risk/ ) is discovered.
SPoR language is about:
· Embodied learning
· Cultural semiotics
· Wicked problems
· Care and helping
· Common good
· Social contract
· The unconscious
· Collective unconscious
· Alternatives to closed systems
· Prophetic imagination
· Holistic ergonomics
This language demonstrates what SPoR is about and how SPoR wishes to self-identify. SPoR can be distinguished against other risk and safety methodologies by this language. You can find out more about SPoR and what it teachers here: https://cllr.com.au/register-to-study/ or download the SPoR handbook here: https://www.humandymensions.com/product/the-social-psychology-of-risk-handbook/
SPoR is not new but has been about for over 20 years.
Many of the books written (https://www.humandymensions.com/shop/) in SPoR philosophy deconstruct and reconstruct alternatives to traditional ways of tackling risk. This is the structure of each book. These books and videos are free, downloadable, positive and practical (https://vimeo.com/cllr ). Those who practice SPoR methods attest to their liberating and humanising outcomes.
SPoR has many models (https://safetyrisk.net/the-search-for-meaning-in-safety-models/) and each therefore has its own myth. Like all myths/semiotics the key is the outcome, ethic, politic and purpose (https://safetyrisk.net/why-is-myth-so-scary-to-safety/ ). Models and symbols are representations of a philosophy and what that philosophy values.
SPoR articulates (https://safetyrisk.net/what-are-the-benefits-of-social-psychology-of-risk/) its philosophy, core values and beliefs (https://safetyrisk.net/understanding-the-social-psychology-of-risk-and-safety/) in many places. SPoR also gives away free introduction course as well as videos and many other resources for those who are interested in learning SPoR. The economics of SPoR is also central to its philosophy.
SPoR cannot be understood through quanta, binary definition or text. SPoR is best understood semiotically, ethically and through Transdisciplinarity. SPoR cannot be understood by using an engineering or science focused paradigm. The meaning of SPoR is not discovered by applying engineering methodology or scientific method to what it does. For example, the SPoR Body of Knowledge does not seek an encyclopedia-type definition but rather offers a semiotic.
Similarly, SPoR understands culture through the lens of semiotics (Lotman), Linguistics (Kristeva), Neuropsychology (Damasio), Learning (Fuchs), Politcs/Ethics (Ellul) and the Collective Unconscious (Jung). Semiotic thinking transcends the limits of engineering and science indeed, such ways of knowing limit the ways one can understand risk.
SPoR ‘helps’ people with risk by focusing on visual, relational, social and verbal approaches to tackling risk. Such methods are often messy (like real life) and unpredictable but relational, social, empowering, in-situ, real-time and efficacious.
Visual and verbal risk assessment is equally as valid as written or text-based risk assessment. More importantly, the court validates such approaches (in testimony) to risk assessment.
However, to embrace a SPoR worldview requires a leap of faith and creates Cognitive Dissonance (https://safetyrisk.net/cognitive-dissonance-and-safety-beliefs/). A leap into SPoR offers uncertainty, risk and learning, there is no binary sugar-coating, linear solutions or controls. A scary option for some (https://safetyrisk.net/why-is-myth-so-scary-to-safety/).
It is sometimes quite odd that when people try to make the leap into SPoR they spend their time defending traditional safety and telling what they know. One can’t come into the unknown by holding on to what one knows. Under the threat of uncertainty many return to what they have been indoctrinated, to what they are anchored and to what is safe. It’s challenging to leave the security of binary promises behind.
A SPoR myth offers a completely new way of understanding myths in themselves. Myths are not fairy tales but a semiotic reality just as ritual in itself is not necessarily bad. Moral good is not defined by propositions but rather by an ethic of personhood.
SPoR myth offers a new meaning and purpose in how one tackles risk. In SPoR we don’t de-mythologise to get rid of the myth, ritual or symbol but rather to anchor myths that are meaningful, ethical and person-centric.
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