The Psychosocial Imagination

The details
Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies
Colchester Campus
Full Year
Undergraduate: Level 4
Thursday 05 October 2023
Friday 28 June 2024
21 August 2023


Requisites for this module



Key module for

BA L3C8 Criminology with Social Psychology,
BA L3H8 Criminology with Social Psychology (Including Placement Year),
BA LHC8 Criminology with Social Psychology (Including Year Abroad),
BA CL83 Sociology with Social Psychology,
BA CL93 Sociology with Social Psychology (Including Placement Year),
BA CLV3 Sociology with Social Psychology (Including Year Abroad),
BA C890 Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies,
BA C89A Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies (Including Placement Year),
BA C89B Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies (Including Year Abroad),
BA C89C Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies (Including Foundation Year)

Module description

This introductory, two-term module foregrounds the ‘psychosocial’ in the BA in Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies. Whilst deeply rooted in a range of theoretical ideas, the module will be selective in its treatment of the psychosocial, and illustrative of further areas of study to come at later points in the degree.

The module’s main point of emphasis will be on ‘imagination’, in a dual sense. Both how we might imagine the ‘psychosocial’ as a discipline, with its specific forms of knowledge, theoretical frames and domains of application, but also in the sense that psychosocial studies might give weight to forms of imagination and representation in their capacity to link subjective and embodied existence with social life. Students are encouraged to develop an appreciation of how their subjects of study will enable them to critically and imaginatively re-appraise the world in which they live. Topics that may be considered include:

• Mental health & madness studies
• Bodies/embodiment and disabilities
• The individual and family life
• Identity Politics (incl. race, gender, sexuality)
• Emotional life (love, hate, envy, rage)
• Social Institutions (schools, prisons, hospitals)

The module will inspire the development of the students’ psychosocial imagination, and furnish it with tangible examples from real-world contexts (be they social, cultural, political, or historical contexts). Of particular importance will be the links from theory to lived experience, which continue to be a vital dimension of later modules across the degree.

Module aims

1. introduce students to definitions of the ‘psychosocial’ and a critical understanding of the disciplinary claims of psychosocial studies
2. introduce students to analytic frameworks from across a range of psychosocial perspectives
3. introduce students to areas of study and application that are proximate to psychoanalytic studies
4. keep closely in view the links and connections with foundational psychoanalytic ideas and how they change with disciplinary shifts (i.e. the unconscious; resistance; conflict; trauma)
5. demonstrate breadth of psychoanalytic influence (especially with respect to social and political thought)
6. introduce students to potential and actual lines of critique of psychoanalysis

Module learning outcomes

1. demonstrate an understanding of the breadth of psychosocial frameworks and applications
2. achieve a capacity to critically engage with key debates in psychosocial studies, including their intersection with psychoanalysis
3. identify and analyse connections between social and political configurations and psychic life
4. show a greater capacity to observe and interpret the social and political world through new perspectives

Module information

As a team-taught module, the syllabus will be determined on an annual basis according to availability of PPS staff. In the main, tutors will teach for two consecutive weeks on a common theme or sub-theme to ensure consistency across classes.

This is also an indicative syllabus, in that it is focusing on themes and main topics, texts and authors, without always going into final detail on individual readings and passages

Autumn term

Part one: Our topic and approach

1) The Psychosocial Imagination
Essential Reading:
Chancer, L. (2014) ' C. Wright Mills, Freud, and the Psychosocial Imagination' in the Unhappy Divorce of Sociology and Psychoanalysis (eds. Lynn Chancer and John Andrews). Palgrave Macmillan: pp 190-202.

2) The Psychosocial world: Pierre Bourdieu
Essential Reading:
Bourdieu, P. (2019 [1999]) The Weight of the World: Social Suffering in Contemporary Society. Cambridge, Polity Press [extracts from].

3) The Imaginary
Ffytche, M (2020) Real Fantasies: Reinserting the Imaginary in the Scene of Social Encounter

Part two: Seeing and Being Seen in Social Space

4) The Individual under Surveillance
Essential Reading:
Foucault, M. (1979) 'Panopticism' in Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison (Vintage) pp195-228.
Bentham, J. Extracts from the 'Panopticon Letters' in The Panopticon Writings (Verso).

5) The Consumer Gaze
Essential Reading:
Benjamin, W. (1989) Section II: 'The Flâneur' in Charles Baudelaire: A Lyric Poet in the Era of High Capitalism (London: Verso) pp. 35-66.
Wilson, E. (1992) The Sphinx in the City: Urban Life, the Control of Disorder, and Women (University of California Press) pp 47-64.

6) Reading week

7) Psychosocial Imagination Field Trip

8) Visual cultures

9) Imagining and activism in the streets
Soreanu, R (2018) extract from Working-through Collective Wounds: Trauma, Denial, Recognition in the Brazilian Uprising (Studies in the Psychosocial)

10) Mid-module review

Spring term

Part 3: Embodiment in social space

1) Asylums
Essential Reading:
Goffman, E. (1961) Asylums: Essays on the Social Situation of Mental Patients and Other Inmates. New York: Anchor Books [extracts from]
Laing, R.D. (1960) The Divided Self: An Existential Study in Sanity and Madness. Harmondsworth: Penguin.

2) Stigma and the marking of bodies
Tyler, I. (2020) Stigma: The Machinery of Inequality. Zed Books [extracts from]
Penhall, J. (2000) Blue/Orange. London, Bloomsbury Print.

3) Racial imaginaries
Text by Paul Gilroy or Stuart Hall

4) Discursive regimes
Foucault, M – History of Sexuality, vol 1

5) Reading week (with film showing)

Part 4: Emotions, identity, performance

6) Performing Gender
Butler, J. Gender Trouble

7) Performing the social self
Goffman, E. The Presentation of the Self

8) Emotion and Work
Hoschschild, A. The Managed Heart: Commercialisation of Human Feeling

9) Emotion and Identity
Craib, I. (1994) The Importance of Disappointment

10) Review

Learning and teaching methods

Weekly, participatory lectures followed by discussion-based seminars, plus an off-campus field trip.


The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course.
The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students.
Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Coursework weighting
Coursework   Formative Essay   22/11/2023  0% 
Coursework   Field Trip Review  04/12/2023  20% 
Coursework   Annotated Bibliography  26/02/2024  30% 
Coursework   Essay  08/05/2024  50% 

Exam format definitions

  • Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
  • In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary, for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.

Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Prof Matt Ffytche, email:
Dr Marita Vyrgioti, email:
From Department of Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies 01206 874969 : Room 5A.202 Colchester Campus



External examiner

Dr Angie Voela
University of East London
Available via Moodle
Of 29 hours, 29 (100%) hours available to students:
0 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s), module, or event type.


Further information

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