Dr Stephen Gibson

Associate Professor and School Research Lead

School of Psychological & Social Sciences

E: s.gibson@yorksj.ac.uk

T: 01904 876581

Dr Stephen Gibson, Associate Professor

I have been at York St John University since September 2005, before which I undertook my doctoral research in the Department of Psychology, Lancaster University. My research uses discursive and rhetorical approaches to explore a range of social psychological topics, including citizenship, national identity, dis/obedience and representations of peace and conflict.  I teach across various modules at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels, and supervise a number of research students.  As School Research Lead I oversee research activity across the disciplines within the School of Psychological & Social Sciences.

Further Information


I currently teach on the following modules:

  • 1PY404 Current Psychology
  • 2PY400 Social Psychology
  • 2PY402 Qualitative Research Methods
  • 3PY340 Dissertation
  • MPY100 Psychological Research Methods

I also supervise several research students, and am interested in hearing from prospective research students with interests in the broad area of critical social psychology who wish to undertake research using discursive and rhetorical approaches. For more details of my specific areas of interest please see the ‘Research’ and ‘Publications’ tabs.


Research interests

My research is informed by discursive and rhetorical approaches to social psychology, and I have used these to address a number of issues:

  1. (Dis)obedience: My current focus is a project applying the insights of rhetorical and discursive psychology to the original recordings and transcripts from Stanley Milgram’s ‘obedience’ experiments, conducted at Yale University in the 1960s.
  2. Citizenship and national identity: I have a longstanding interest in analysing the rhetorical construction of social identities, with a specific focus on the mobilization and construction of national identity and citizenship. Most recently I have explored these issues in the context of political discourse surrounding the UK’s relationship with the European Union.
  3. Everyday understandings of social citizenship, welfare and (un)employment: Arising from my broader interest in citizenship, I also have interests in the construction of welfare, welfare recipients, and (un)employment, issues which have been comparatively neglected in social psychology.
  4. Discourse, rhetoric and peace psychology: This strand of my work has developed the application of discursive and rhetorical approaches to matters of international peace and conflict. Specifically, I have used these approaches in an analysis of a series of televised debates surrounding the Iraq War.
  5. Qualitative Research Methods: As my research involves the use of discursive and rhetorical approaches to social psychology, I am particularly interested in a range of generic issues related to qualitative research, including the status of interview data in social scientific research. On a related theme, I have a longstanding interest in the development of resources for teaching qualitative research methods, and have been involved in the creation of a set of online teaching materials.


I would be interested in supervising postgraduates (either for an MSc by research or a PhD) wishing to carry out research on any of the topics above using analyses informed by discursive/rhetorical approaches to social psychology.

Selected grants

  • British Academy (2017-18): 'Film as a means of exploring narratives of responsibility in Milgram's 'obedience' experiments:  Project scoping and pilot study' (with K. Millard).
  • Leverhulme Trust (2015-17): ‘Stanley Milgram’s experiments in defying authority: A qualitative analysis.’
  • British Psychological Society (2015): ‘UKIP and the 2015 UK General Election: A discourse analysis of broadcast media data.’
  • Nuffield Foundation (2009-2010): ‘Milgram’s obedience experiments: A rhetorical analysis’
  • Higher Education Academy Psychology Network (2007-2008): ‘Development of a web-based resource to aid the teaching of qualitative research methods at undergraduate level’ (With M. Forrester, A. Gordon-Finlayson, S. Riley, R. Shaw & S. Wiggins).

Publications (2017 to present)

Gibson, S.  (in press).  Arguing, obeying and defying:  A rhetorical perspective on Stanley Milgram’s obedience experiments.  Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press.

Gibson, S.  (in press).  Creating a data set to illustrate different approaches to analysis.  In C. Sullivan & M. A. Forrester (Eds.), Doing qualitative research in psychology:  A practical guide (2nd ed.).  London:  Sage.

Gibson, S., & Riley, S.  (in press).  Approaches to data collection in qualitative research.  In C. Sullivan & M. A. Forrester (Eds.), Doing qualitative research in psychology:  A practical guide (2nd ed.).  London:  Sage.

Gibson, S.  (Ed.).  (2018).  Discourse, peace and conflict:  Discursive psychology perspectives.  New York:  Springer.  doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-99094-1

Gibson, S.  (2018).  Concluding remarks:  Developing a critical discursive peace psychology.  In S. Gibson (Ed.), Discourse, peace and conflict:  Discursive psychology perspectives.  New York:  Springer.  doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-99094-1_18

Gibson, S.  (2018).  Introduction:  Discursive psychology and peace psychology.  In S. Gibson (Ed.), Discourse, peace and conflict:  Discursive psychology perspectives.  New York:  Springer.  doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-99094-1_1

Gibson, S. (2018). State militarism and international conflict. In C. J. Hewer & E. Lyons (Eds.), Political psychology: A social psychological approach (pp. 253-270). Chichester: Wiley.

Gibson, S.  (2018).  Obedience without orders:  Expanding social psychology’s conception of ‘obedience’.  British Journal of Social Psychology.  Advance online publication.  doi: 10.1111/bjso.12272  View in repository

Gibson, S., Blenkinsopp, G., Johnstone, E., & Marshall, A.  (2018).  Just following orders?  The rhetorical invocation of ‘obedience’ in Stanley Milgram’s post-experiment interviews.  European Journal of Social Psychology, 48, 585-599.  doi: 10.1002/ejsp.2351  View in repository

Gibson, S., & Booth, R.  (2018).  ‘An Australian-style points system’:  Individualizing immigration in radical right discourse in the 2015 UK General Election campaign.  Peace and Conflict:  Journal of Peace Psychology, 24, 389-397.  doi: 10.1037/pac0000267  View in repository

Gibson, S., Crossland, M., & Hamilton, J.  (2018).  Social citizenship and immigration:  Employment, welfare, and effortfulness in online discourse concerning migration to the United Kingdom.  Qualitative Psychology, 5, 99-116.  doi: 10.1037/qup0000078 View in repository

Gibson, S., & Sullivan, C.  (2018).  A changing culture?  Qualitative methods teaching in UK psychology.  Qualitative Psychology, 5, 197-206.  doi: 10.1037/qup0000100  View in repository

Anderson, E., & Gibson, S.  (2017).  “Hammered down on every side” vs “just being positive”: A critical discursive approach to health inequality.  Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology, 27, 324-335.  doi: 10.1002/casp.2315  View in repository

Gibson, S. & Smart, C. (2017). Social influence. In B. Gough (Ed.), The Palgrave handbook of critical social psychology (pp. 291-318). London: Palgrave.

Gibson, S. (2017). Developing psychology's archival sensibilities: Re-visiting Milgram's 'obedience' experiments. Qualitative Psychology, 4, 73-89.  doi: 10.1037/qup0000040 View in repository

Gibson, S.  (2017).  Everyday politics, everyday racism:  Censure and management of racist talk.  In C. Howarth & E. Andreouli (Eds.), Everyday politics (pp. 34-48). London:  Routledge.

Publications (2012 - 2016)

Gibson, S. (2016). Obedience. In V. Zeigler-Hill & T. K. Shackleford (Eds.), Encyclopedia of personality and individual differences. New York: Springer. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-28099-8_1257-1

Gibson, S.  (2016).  Banal nationalism, postmodernism and capitalism:  Revisiting Billig's critique of Rorty.  In C. Tileagă & E. Stokoe (Eds.), Discursive psychology:  Classic and contemporary issues (pp. 289-302).  Abingdon:  Routledge.  View in repository

Gibson, S.  (2015).  Why do good people do bad things?  The psychology of social influence.  In R. Capdevila, J. Dixon, & G. Briggs (Eds.), Investigating psychology 2:  From social to cognitive (pp. 37-79).  Milton Keynes:  The Open University.

Gibson, S.  (2015).  From representations to representing:  On social representations and discursive-rhetorical psychology.  In G. Sammut, E. Andreouli, G. Gaskell, & J. Valsiner (Eds.), The Cambridge handbook of social representations (pp. 210-223).  Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press.  doi: 10.1017/CBO9781107323650.018  View in repository

Gibson, S. (2015). Constructions of ‘the Polish’ in northern England:  Findings from a qualitative interview study. Journal of Social & Political Psychology, 3, 43-62.  doi: 10.5964/jspp.v3i2.414  View in repository

Gibson, S. (2015). Rhetoric and resistance. The Psychologist, 28, 648-651.

Gibson, S. (2014). Discourse, defiance and rationality: 'Knowledge work' in the 'obedience' experiments. Journal of Social Issues, 70, 424-438.  doi: 10.1111/josi.12069 View in repository

Gibson, S. (2013). ‘The last possible resort’: A forgotten prod and the in situ standardization of Stanley Milgram’s voice-feedback condition. History of Psychology, 16, 177-194.  doi: 10.1037/a0032430 View in repository

Gibson, S. (2013). Milgram’s obedience experiments: A rhetorical analysis. British Journal of Social Psychology, 52, 290-309.  doi: 10.1111/j.2044-8309.2011.02070.x View in repository

Gibson, S. & Hamilton, L. (2013). Knowledge, autonomy and maturity: Developmental and educational concerns as rhetorical resources in adolescents’ discussions regarding the age of electoral majority in England. Journal of Youth Studies, 16, 34-53.  doi: 10.1080/13676261.2012.693589 View in repository

Gibson, S. (2012). History in action: The construction of historical analogies in televised debates concerning the Iraq War. Papers on Social Representations, 21, 13.1-13.35. View in repository

Gibson, S. (2012). Social representations of peace and conflict: Introduction to the special issue. Papers on Social Representations, 21, 10.1-10.8. View in repository

Gibson, S. (2012). ‘I’m not a war monger but…’: Discourse analysis and social psychological peace research. Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology, 22, 159-173.  doi: 10.1002/casp.1099 View in repository

Gibson, S.  (2012).  Supporting the troops, serving the country:  Rhetorical commonplaces in the representation of military service.  In S. Gibson & S. Mollan (Eds), Representations of peace and conflict (pp. 143-159).  Basingstoke: Palgrave.  doi: 10.1057/9781137292254_8

Gibson, S. & Mollan, S.  (2012).  Representations of peace and conflict.  In S. Gibson & S. Mollan (Eds), Representations of peace and conflict (pp. 1-20).  Basingstoke:  Palgrave.  doi: 10.1057/9781137292254_1

Gibson, S. & Mollan, S. (Eds). (2012). Representations of peace and conflict. Basingstoke: Palgrave.  doi: 10.1057/9781137292254

Gibson, S., Sullivan, S. & Riley, S.  (2012).  Overview and conclusions:  Be a scholar.  In C. Sullivan, S. Gibson. & S. Riley (Eds), Doing your qualitative psychology project (pp. 211-218).  London:  Sage.

Gibson, S. & Hugh-Jones, S.  (2012).  Analysing your data.  In C. Sullivan, S. Gibson.& S. Riley (Eds), Doing your qualitative psychology project (pp. 127-153).  London:  Sage.

Hugh-Jones, S. & Gibson, S.  (2012).  Collecting your data.  In C. Sullivan, S. Gibson. & S. Riley (Eds), Doing your qualitative psychology project (pp. 101-126).  London:  Sage.

Sullivan, C., Gibson, S. & Riley, S.  (2012).  Introduction and aims of the book.  In C. Sullivan, S. Gibson. & S. Riley (Eds), Doing your qualitative psychology project (pp. 1-22).  London:  Sage.

Sullivan, C., Gibson, S. & Riley, S. (Eds). (2012). Doing your qualitative psychology project. London: Sage.

Gibson, S. & Sullivan, C. (2012). Teaching qualitative research methods in psychology: An introduction to the special issue. Psychology Learning & Teaching11, 1-5.  doi: 10.2304/plat.2012.11.1.1  View in repository

Publications (2004 - 2011)

Gibson, S. (2011). Dilemmas of citizenship: Young people's conceptions of un/employment rights and responsibilities. British Journal of Social Psychology, 50, 450-468.  doi: 10.1348/014466610X520113 View in repository

Gibson, S. (2011). Social psychology, war and peace: Towards a critical discursive peace psychology. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 5, 239-250.  doi: 10.1111/j.1751-9004.2011.00348.x View in repository

Gibson, S., & Hamilton, L. (2011). The rhetorical construction of polity membership: Identity, culture and citizenship in young people’s discussions of immigration in northern England. Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology, 21, 228-242.  doi: 10.1002/casp.1087 View in repository

Gibson, S. & Noret, N. (2010). Historical experiences, collective memory and willingness to fight for one's country: Comments on Paez et al. (2008). Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 41, 445-450.  doi: 10.1177/0022022109359693 View in repository

Gibson, S. & Riley, S.  (2010).  Approaches to data collection in qualitative research.  In M. A. Forrester (Ed.), Doing qualitative research in psychology:  A practical guide (pp. 59-76).  London:  Sage.

Gibson, S.  (2010).  Introducing the dataset.  In M. A. Forrester (Ed.), Doing qualitative research in psychology:  A practical guide (pp. 121-134).  London:  Sage.

Gibson, S. (2009). The effortful citizen: Discursive social psychology and welfare reform. Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology, 19, 393-410.  doi: 10.1002/casp.1003 View in repository

Gibson, S. & Condor, S. (2009). State institutions and social identity: National representation in soldiers’ and civilians’ interview talk concerning military service. British Journal of Social Psychology, 48, 313-336.  doi: 10.1348/014466608X349496 View in repository

Gibson, S. (2009). An imperfect Panopticon? Surveillance and the BBC Prison Study. Social Psychological Review, 11, 15-21. View in repository

Abell, J., Condor, S., Lowe, R. D., Gibson, S.& Stevenson, C. (2007). Who ate all the pride? Patriotic sentiment and English national football support. Nations and Nationalism, 13, 97-116.  doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8129.2007.00268.x

Condor, S. & Gibson, S. (2007). ‘Everybody’s entitled to their own opinion’: Ideological dilemmas of liberal individualism and active citizenship. Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology, 17, 115-140.  doi: 10.1002/casp.885

Condor, S., Figgou, L., Abell, J., Gibson, S.& Stevenson, C. (2006). "They're not racist": Prejudice denial, mitigation and suppression in dialogue. British Journal of Social Psychology, 45, 441-462.  doi: 10.1348/014466605X66817

Abell, J., Locke, A., Condor, S., Gibson, S.& Stevenson, C. (2006). Trying similarity, doing difference: The role of interviewer self-disclosure in interview talk with young people. Qualitative Research, 6, 221-244.  doi: 10.1177/1468794106062711

Condor, S., Gibson, S. & Abell, J. (2006). English identity and ethnic diversity in the context of UK constitutional change. Ethnicities, 6, 123-158.  doi: 10.1177/1468796806063748

Gibson, S. & Abell, J. (2004). For Queen and country?: National frames of reference in the talk of soldiers in England. Human Relations, 57, 871-891.  doi: 10.1177/0018726704045769  View in repository

Professional Activities

xternal Roles:

  • Associate Editor, British Journal of Social Psychology (2017 – present)
  • Associate Editor, Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology (2016 - present)
  • Committee member, British Psychological Society Social Psychology Section (2017 – present)
  • Editorial board member, Papers on Social Representations (2013 – present)
  • ESRC Peer Review College member (2010 – present)

Peer reviewing:

  • Journals including: Asian Journal of Social Psychology; British Journal of Social Psychology; Ethnicities; European Journal of Social Psychology; Journal of Adolescent Research; Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology; Journal of Health Psychology; Journal of Social Issues; Journal of Social & Political Psychology; Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour; National Identities; Peace & Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology; PLOS One; Political Psychology; Qualitative Research; Qualitative Research in Psychology; Research on Language & Social Interaction; Social & Personality Psychology Compass; Social Psychology Quarterly; The Sociological Review; Youth & Society.
  • Funding bodies: British Academy; ESRC; Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation; Higher Education Academy Psychology Network.
  • Publishers: Cambridge University Press; Hodder; McGraw-Hill; Palgrave; Routledge; Sage; Springer.
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