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About this Research Topic

Abstract Submission Deadline 15 January 2023
Manuscript Submission Deadline 15 March 2023

Individuals and systems are rife with prejudices, leading to discrimination and inequities. Examples of this include rejection of stigmatized groups (e.g., Black Americans, Indigenous people in Canada, Roma peoples in Europe), structural racism (e.g., inequitable distribution of resources for public schools), ...

Individuals and systems are rife with prejudices, leading to discrimination and inequities. Examples of this include rejection of stigmatized groups (e.g., Black Americans, Indigenous people in Canada, Roma peoples in Europe), structural racism (e.g., inequitable distribution of resources for public schools), disenfranchisement of women employees (e.g., the “glass ceiling”), barriers to higher education (e.g., biased admissions requirements), heterosexism, economic oppression, and colonization. When we take a closer look, we find the core of the problem is imbalance in the distribution of power and its misuse.

The problem is finding better tools to expose covert, invisible, or under-examined aspects of power, its use and misuse and shine a light on unconscious habits that bolster unjust hoarding of power by individuals and within institutions in order to know where to affect change. Many of those who hold and wield power do not recognize or acknowledge that they are exercising power at all. Submitted papers will help future scholars define, measure and call-out hidden power while suggesting mechanisms to support healing and harmony.

This Research Topic will explore forms of covert or unexamined institutional power structures, systems, and their psychological effects and consequences. There are specific behaviors and psychologies that operate in systems in which there are power imbalances. These include forms of casteism, colorism, sexism, heterocentrism, ciscentrism, biological racism and aversive racism. Submissions should explore the effects of power on individual decision making and the psychological effects on the individual when granted unchecked power, particularly when this power is wielded covertly unseen and unexamined. When powerful individuals are free to engage in bias against outgroups it can lead to various forms of oppression.

Papers submitted on this topic can also be explorations on the individual level, for example, exploring the inverse relationship between power hoarding (avoidance of risk) and courage (acceptance of risk) with a discussion on the relationship between the two and their effects on personal moral growth. Aversive racism is a subtype of racism which has a self-deceptive mien and involves covert actions to maintain plausible deniability so that the individual can uphold the fiction that they are free of bias and is therefore of particular interest for this call.

We are also interested in topics having to do with Institutional forms of power hoarding particularly in the construction and administration of policy. Policy is a power tool that can exhibit the same characteristics as aversive racism, resulting in outcomes that advantage an ingroup but seem to be fair on the surface, and can maintain plausible deniability by allowing exceptions. Such policy is designed to covertly support systematically biased systems and is the institutionalized correlate of individual aversive racism.

These systems can be found anywhere where power is concentrated, board rooms, editorial meetings, university admissions policies, bylaws for accreditation. They may seem fair and appropriate but, in their usage, end up bolstering systems that support hierarchical, non-meritocratic outcomes. The name for such policies is called weaponization of policy. The psychology of the individuals who willingly or unwittingly inhabit and use weaponized policies within these systems or are involved in creating weaponized policy are underexplored therefore we call for papers about any of the above-mentioned themes to stimulate further scholarship on this topic.

Finally, the practice of willingly giving up power for the benefit of out-groups (i.e. centering the voices of those with less power) is an essential part of allyship, and therefore the psychology of giving up power is also an acceptable topic.

Themes to be addressed include policy weaponization, bias and discrimination as it relates to covert power and power systems, and the psychology of power. We will consider original research, reviews, theoretical articles, meta-analysis, commentary and opinion

Keywords: power, courage, risk, Institutional power, aversive policy, racism, and policy weaponization


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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