My co-authored paper with the fabulous Susan Opotow, “Foreground and Background: Environment as Site and Social Issue,” in the 75th anniversary issue in 2011 of the Journal of Social Issues is now available here for free download in pre-print form. Susan and I were curious about how the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI) considered the role of environment in their work. We decided to use the complete published works of the Journal of Social Issues and key social psychology methods texts as a dataset for the shifting constructs and understanding of environment in critical social psychological work. Please note that only the final print version may be cited. Here’s the final citation:
Opotow, Susan, and Jen Gieseking. 2011. “Foreground and Background: Environment as Site and Social Issue.” Journal of Social Issues 67 (1): 179–196. doi:10.1111/j.1540-4560.2010.01691.x.
To examine how the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI) has engaged with environmental issues throughout its 75-year history, we consulted five SPSSI-based data sources. Our analysis, attentive to the larger sociopolitical contexts over time, focuses on SPSSI’s attention to the physical environment, the places in which social living and interactions occur. In SPSSI’s early years, social issues research was often situated within specific locales. Since 1960 and the emergence of environmental psychology and the environmental movement, SPSSI increasing focuses on environment as a social issue in its own right as well part of other social issues. Over time there has been a decline in mentions of the physical environment in SPSSI’s methods texts. This historical analysis highlights the specifics of context in SPSSI’s environmental research and urges attention to the physical as well as social aspects of environment in research and activism.