Social Identity and the Makings of Community: Anxiety, Threat and Security

 jeffreySocial Identity & the Makings of Community Anxiety, Threat & Security: University of St Andrew’s: Dr Jeffrey Murer

The aims of this module are to:

This module explores the making communities, which is a concept often taken for granted.  Communities are dynamic entities, the characters of which change and develop, and are bounded by modes of practice, by norms of behaviour, by space, by language, and occasionally by time.  Students will examine how groups create senses of identity and how individuals are either welcomed into these communities or are excluded. Whether one is inside or outside a community, understanding the stakes of approaching an individual or a group has profound repercussions for cooperation, safety and security.  For those specifically charged with enhancing safety, there is a challenge to understand what communities are present within a given physical space, how to recognize their modes of interaction, and how the security concerns of one group may impact on others.  This module focuses on policing in complex social environments.

 On completion of this module, students are expected to be able to:

  1. Demonstrate an understanding of the factors that contribute to collective or social identity.
  2.  Demonstrate an understating of the links between identity formation and identity performance, whereby individuals within collectivities perform physical or discursive enactments that distinguish them from others.
  3.  Students will critically analyse conflicts between sets of cultural norms within given communities, and the manner by which such norms are transmitted across space and transgenerationally.
  4.  Develop critical thinking and analytic skills, as well as the ability to closely and critically read texts.
  5.  Demonstrate ability to critically assess the community cohesion, community policing, and communal violence literatures and the ability to discern distinct conflict types and different psychological motivations for violence and conflict.
  6.  Demonstrate ability to transferable skills include exposure to research methods, critical thinking, formal writing, and presenting oral arguments.

The primary method of teaching the module is via distance learning. The module demands preparation in advance by students and their active participation in seminars and on-line discussions.  Intellectual skills will be practiced and demonstrated through these active learning processes. Preparation for classes is directed by detailed reading lists distributed to students at the start of each module.

Knowledge and understanding will be supported by directed study of  a range of academic, policy and practical sources  (such as research monographs, edited collections, journal articles and research reports)  and by the essay.

Summative assessment of knowledge and understanding takes place primarily through the 6,000 word assignment which is submitted at completion of the module.

The assignment assesses the use of a wide range of relevant material, the ability to summarise this material effectively and, the ability to construct and defend a coherent academic argument.