CUSP, Meet people in the School, Psychology, Social Psychology

What do professors do all day?

Professor Stephanie Taylor is part of the Culture and Social Psychology (CuSP) collaboration in the School. In this blog, she writes about her recent research activities, including her new publicationsthumb_IMG_0396_1024.jpg.

This autumn, my main research activity has been the development of my new book Pathways into Creative Working Lives. I’m co-editing this international collection with Susan Luckman from the University of South Australia, as the final part of our work on an EU-funded project.

Since the late 1980s there has been increasing recognition of the economic and social importance of a global creative sector, often referred to as the cultural and creative industries (CCI). Different definitions of the CCI encompass different occupations, but a central assumption is that the sector’s workers are looking for the kind of satisfaction and fulfilment that is more conventionally associated with the creative arts than ‘ordinary’ work. Many of these workers are graduates from art schools. Some have decided to develop a career from a longstanding personal interest in performance or craft or other forms of ‘making’. The new international collection discusses the significance of this way of thinking about work, and  the experience of curators, writers, artists, actors, media workers, designers and craft workers from across the world

For Susan and myself, the process of assembling the collect70228138_10157068413716501_1474037912768086016_o.jpgion began with a seminar we held in Dublin in June 2018. We invited the seminar participants and other academics with related interests to develop proposals, then chapters. We’ve provided feedback at each stage and we’ve also co-authored our own two chapters. The publishers have now sent the whole collection out to other academics for feedback, and we expect to do further revisions in response to their comments. This is an example of how academic publications are developed and refined collaboratively. The collection will be published in our new Palgrave series, ‘Creative Working Lives’ and we are also looking for other books to develop for the series.

I met up with Susan and some of the collection contributors at the Re-Futuring Creative Economies conference in Leicester in September. It was an opportunity to hear about everyone’s most recent work.


My own conference paper focused on my special interest in the social psychology of creativity. I’ve just completed a new article for a special issue on that topic in the US journal Social Psychology Quarterly. My article ‘A practitioner concept of contemporary creativity’ analyses interviews from a research project with maker artists that was conducted in Milton Keynes, where the OU is located. I wanted to look at the way that these practitioners understand creativity, and how that isn’t necessarily the same as the way that academics conceptualise it. In another article, published in the journal Feminism & Psychologyin August, Marie Paludan and I look at the particular views of women maker-artists.

Alongside these writing projects, I’ve been busy co-organising events at which colleagues can present their research. This is part of my role as a co-Director of CuSP, the Culture and Social Psychology collaboration in the School of Psychology and Counselling  One of these was a workshop on qualitative analysis that we held at the OU on 21st November. Research students from the School and other parts of the university discussed examples of research data to explore the possibilities and limitations of qualitative data analysis. I’ve also been assisting with the university’s preparation for REF2021. This is a national audit in which UK universities showcase their research. The OU is currently selecting the publications and projects that it will present for assessment, and as part of that process I’m reading the work of colleagues and, again, giving feedback.

There has been quite a lot of overlap between all these research activities and my main teaching work this autumn as I’ve been overseeing the marking of End of Module Assignments for the postgraduate module Evaluating Psychology: Research and Practice DD803  The final task for these students was to conduct a critical review of psychology research on a selected topic, then present the findings in formats for different audiences, such as a news article for the general public or a podcast for a charity.

As this account indicates, a great deal of my research and related work has involved reading, reviewing and communicating. That extends into the work I do for this School blog – inviting, editing and posting contributions. And alongside all of it, I’m always looking ahead, talking about possibilities with colleagues at the OU and elsewhere, thinking about new ideas I’ve encountered in my reading, making notes and tentative plans for the next step in my research.


Stephanie Taylor (2019) A Participant Concept of Contemporary Creativity Social Psychology Quarterly 82(4):453-472

Stephanie Taylor and Marie Paludan (2019) Transcending utility? The gendered conflicts of a contemporary creative identification Feminism & Psychology

Stephanie Taylor and Susan Luckman (forthcoming) Pathways into Contemporary Creative Work Palgrave Macmillan.

You can read more about my research here 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s