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This seminar considers the particular challenges of tackling the psychology of work in the first half of the century. It asks students to reflect on the motivations for what was called industrial psychology, the reasons for resistance, and the tactics deployed in attempting to overcome this. It also asks whether there is a history of psychology in relation to economic life in this period that goes beyond the subject of industrial psychology. How, for instance, could new psychological thought and practise be mobilised by workers as well as employers, and in relation to consumption as well as production. Finally, it asks students a) to reflect upon the use of a professional journal (Journal of the National Institute for Industrial Psychology/Human Factor/Occupational Psychology) as a source for understanding such issues; and b) to retrieve one document from the Modern Records Centre casting light on the discussion.


Cooter, Roger, ‘Malingering and Modernity’ in Roger Cooter, Steve Sturdy & Mark Harrison (eds.), War, Medicine and Society (1999), pp. 125-48.

McIvor, Arthur, A History of Work in Britain, 1880-1950 (2001).

McKibbin, Ross, ‘The “Social Psychology” of Unemployment in Interwar Britain’, in McKibbin, The Ideologies of Class: Social Relations in Britain, 1880-1950 (1991), pp. 228-58.

Rabinbach, Anson, The Human Motor: Energy, Fatigue, and the Origins of Modernity (1990).

Rose, Jonathan, The Intellectual Life of the British Working Classes (2001).

Rose, Nikolas, Governing the Soul: The Shaping of the Private Self (1989), pp. 55-118.

Thomson, Mathew, ‘Psychology and the Problem of Industrial Civilisation’, Psychological Subjects, pp. 140-72.

Winslow, T., ‘Keynes and Freud: Psychoanalysis and Keynes’s Account of the “Animal Spirits of Modern Capitalism”’, Social Research, 53 (1986), 549-78.

Beales, H.L. and Lambert, R.S., Memoirs of the Unemployed (1934).

Sources: Journal of the National Institute for Industrial Psychology/Human Factor/Occupational Psychology; Modern Records Centre.