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Economic inequality, democratic engagement, and social change


Dr. Séamus A. Power is a trans-disciplinary scholar with expertise in the social, cultural, and political psychology of human development.


His dissertation research focused on the Irish case, to understand why protest and civic discontent occurred during a time of economic growth, rather than decline. The economic collapse of 2008 in Europe resulted in widespread unrest and violent clashes with police across many countries, but not Ireland. Eight years later, similar protests broke out in Ireland in the context of greatly improved and improving economic conditions. Why? The results of this line of research have been published in several academic and media outlets and are available under "publications." Dr. Power continues to conduct experimental and ethnographic research on the topics of economic inequality, social movements, protests, and democratic engagement. 

In a new and related line of  research, along with Professor Rick Shweder, Dr. Power is investigating the scopes and limits of pluralism and the multicultural challenge in western liberal democracies. They have begun addressing this issue by gathering data on this question: “what’s on your un-American activities list?” The results of this empirical investigation act as an entry point into the larger multi-method, inter-disciplinary, research project. 

Dr. Power is also interested in the Equality - Difference Paradox: the observation that countries with greater income equality tend to be less culturally diverse. One consequence of this apparent clash between cultural diversity and income equality is that any country that values both economic equality and cultural diversity must sooner or later confront the paradox, if only for the sake of finding a sensible tradeoff that is compatible with social harmony.

Finally, Dr. Power and his collaborators (Gabriel Velez, Ahmad Qadafi, & Joseph Tennant) innovated "The SAGE model of Social Psychological Research." This is a novel, integrative, and mixed-method model, to advance research practices in psychological science. Dr. Power and his collaborators are working on a series of papers aimed to increase the scopes of methodological pluralism in psychological science. 

Photograph: Peter Morrison/AP
Photograph: Artur Widak/NurPhoto/REX/Shutterstock

Photographs: Peter Morrison/AP (top) and Artur Widak/NurPhoto/REX/Shutterstock

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