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  Dr J Pykett, Dr J Waters  Applications accepted all year round

About the Project

This project will investigate the contemporary influence of positive psychology on management discourse and training programmes in the workplace. It maps the expansion of positive psychology consultancies within the UK (in light of their wider international significance) and examines the conceptual assumptions of positive psychologists’ accounts of the human condition, behaviour and social interaction. Connections are made between neuroscience, positive psychology, Buddhist mindfulness practices, self-help publishing, management theory, and the policy discourses of happiness and wellbeing. Psychometric testing, performance management and self-assessment have become de rigeur in workplace settings but rarely do these work-based practices appreciate the governmental logics of positive psychology.

The project examines how positive psychology produces new worker identities in relation to specific socio-economic contexts and changes in global and local labour markets. Specifically, such practices serve to responsibilise workers for the management of their time-spaces at work, and it is the relationship between psychology, space and time that provides this project with its thematic focus. Just as the government of spatial arrangements has important implications for setting behavioural norms and delimiting human agency, the (self-) government of time and space in the workplace suggests the complicity of ideas from human resource management in relations of power. The project will consider how positive psychology training programmes negotiate the time spent by workers on self-knowledge and wellbeing with the demands of time-constrained productivity in the workplace. The complex question of how work spaces are ultimately controlled will shed new light on some of the practical techniques by which the psychological sciences produce entrepreneurial forms of citizenship and marketised forms of social governance.

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Funding Notes

Applicants should apply via http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/schools/gees/courses/postgraduate/phd-projects.aspx and click on ‘Apply to study here’ and choose the option ‘PhD in Geography and Environmental Science (Human Geography)’ and give the PhD title in the ‘Funding details’ section of the online application.
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