Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Political Behaviour: Modalities of Social Influence and Social Change

LEVEL 01 - Year 1 in Modular Undergraduate Course


DEPARTMENT Faculty for Social Wellbeing

DESCRIPTION This study-unit provides an exhaustive treatment of the dynamic of social influence as it is exercised in everyday life. It starts by looking at leaders in light of theories of personality, and proceeds to discuss various other concerns such as political attitudes, intergroup relations, the role of the media, racism and ethnic conflict, international security and terrorism, and conflict resolution. The study-unit locates these concerns within the broad social scientific literature, and examines a number of contributions that help in understanding the challenges of positive intercultural relations, the reasons for solidarity breakdowns, and the effects of policies that promise reconciliation between competing groups.

Study-Unit Aims:

This study-unit aims to provide students with a learning opportunity to understand social influence dynamics. This understanding is particularly topical in Malta, where the recent encounter with different others who have gained political rights in Malta is on the increase, as well as the political participation of expatriate residents in other European countries. Other emerging concerns include the recent phenomenon of crowd protests, social movements for or against specific policies, and societal concerns that transcend traditional political divides. The study-unit aims to provide students with an understanding of the ways in which individuals and communities strive to influence others in an effort to uphold their own routine practices, to live together in spite of differences, and to acquire a sense of social order that protects the rights of individuals in humane ways.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- acquire insight into the various modalities by which social influence is manifest in everyday life, such as leadership, crowds, authority, persuasion, technological innovation and the mass media;
- recognize the utility of diverse social influence strategies in pursuing societal change;
- comprehend reciprocal strategies for achieving counter influence;
- recognize the dynamic role of social influence in shaping the development of societal common sense.

2. Skills:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- understand and identify the main scholarly contributions that proffer explanations for the exercise of social influence in everyday life. Students are expected to be able to demonstrate their knowledge in a multiple-choice exam;
- demonstrate comprehension of a multitude of social influence tactics in an exam;
- indicate insight of dynamic strategies for social influence including strategies for achieving counter influence;
- demonstrate an ability to appreciate the merits of particular social influence tactics given particular features of cultural contexts;
- indicate the respective conditions for particular influence tactics to evince social change.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

Main Texts:

- Sammut, G., & Bauer, M.W. (2020). The Psychology of Social Influence: Modes and modalities of shifting common sense. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Supplementary Readings:

- Hogg, M.A., & Vaughaun, M. (2011). Social Psychology. Scarborough, UK: Pearson Prentice-Hall.
- Nesbitt-Larking, P. (2014). The Palgrave Handbook of global political psychology. New York, NY: Palgrave-Macmillan.


Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Examination (2 Hours) SEM1 Yes 100%

LECTURER/S Gordon Sammut

The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2020/1. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.