How can we trust our public leaders, and how can they retain public goodwill?
“A Fragile Commodity: trust in the public sphere” on the quality of public debate and especially political debate, focussing especially on the question of trust.
Who do we or can we trust now – politicians, scientists, the media, clergy, the police..? How can we debate things constructively and respectfully, when so much now seems to be polarised into divergent camps, with no empathy for the others’ views? How can we challenge politicians/hold them to account, effectively? How can we trust these public leaders, and how can they retain public goodwill, e.g. on lockdown measures?
Convener: Joyce McMillan
Professor Stephen Reicher
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Joyce McMillan is theatre critic of The Scotsman, and also writes a political and social commentary column for the paper. She has been involved in many campaigns for democracy and human rights, both in Scotland and internationally, and has been a freelance journalist, based in Edinburgh, Scotland, for more than 30 years. She was a Visiting Professor in the School of Drama and Creative Industries at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh from 2006 to 2010, and broadcasts regularly on BBC Radio Scotland and other media. She was on the Scottish Government’s Consultative Steering Group on procedures for the new Scottish Parliament between 1998 and 1999. She has been an active member of the National Union of Journalists throughout her professional life, is a former Chair of the Scottish Civic Forum, and is currently President of Scottish Environment Link.
website_2: All of Joyce McMillan’s writing on theatre and general social/political issues is available online at
Professor Stephen Reicher is the Bishop Wardlaw Professor of Social Psychology in the School of Psychology & Neuroscience , University of St Andrews. He is based in the Centre for research into Equality, Diversity and Inclusion. His research interests are broadly the issues of group behaviour and the individual-social relationship. More specifically, his recent research can be grouped into three areas. The first is an attempt to develop a model of crowd action that baccounts for both social determination and social change. The second concerns the construction of social categories through language and action. The third concerns political rhetoric and mass mobilisation – especially around the issue of national identity. Currently, he is starting work on a Leverhulme funded project (jointly with Nick Hopkins of Lancaster University) looking at the impact of devolution on Scottish identity and social action in Scotland.
Recent Research publications
A social identity model of riot diffusion: from injustice to empowerment in the 2011 London riots
Drury, J., Stott, C., Ball, R., Reicher, S. D. , Neville, F. G. , Bell, L., Biddlestone, M. Choudhury, S., Lovell, M. & Ryan, C. E., 9 Jan 2020, In : European Journal of Social Psychology.
How crowd violence arises and how it spreads: A critical review of theory and evidence
Drury, J., Ball, R., Neville, F. G. , Reicher, S. D. & Stott, C., 2020, The Handbook of Collective Violence: Current Developments and Understanding. Routledge
Together apart: the psychology of COVID-19
Jetten, J., Reicher, S. D. , Haslam, S. A. & Cruwys, T., 26 May 2020, Sage
Darren McGarvey, better known by the stage name Loki, is a writer, columnist and hip hop recording artist, who has made regular media appearances as a social commentator.
Darren grew up in Pollok on the south side of Glasgow, and has lived through extreme poverty, addiction and homelessness. Between 2004 and 2006 he wrote and presented eight programmes on social deprivation for BBC Radio Scotland. Since then he has been a regular contributor to the BBC, STV and other national media, and currently has a weekly column in The Scotsman. McGarvey has a certificate of excellence for his voluntary work with young people. In 2009, he founded Volition Scotland, an organisation that was designed and run by the young people who used it.
He was part of the Poverty Truth Commission that was hosted in Glasgow in the same year. McGarvey became the Violence Reduction Unit’s first ever ‘Rapper-in Residence’ in 2015 and continues to work across Scotland in some of its most challenged communities.
In November 2017 his first book Poverty Safari was published, and was an instant bestseller and critical hit, making the Sunday Times top ten bestseller lists and receiving plaudits from national newspapers and magazines. He won the prestigious ‘Orwell Book Prize’ in June 2016 leading to an upsurge in media requests and appearances. He will be performing at Edinburgh Festival this year and is working on new writing and TV projects.