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Research Profile

Dr Steven Stanley  

Career Profile

Steven Stanley is a critical social psychologist and has been a Lecturer in the School of Social Sciences at Cardiff University since 2003. He completed a BSc Psychology at The Nottingham Trent University in 2000, where he became inspired by qualitative and critical varieties of social psychology (including Marxist, Foucaultian and feminist psychology), radical psychiatry, and a brief visit to the East Side Institute (link to in Manhattan, New York City. His undergraduate dissertation, conducted in 1999, was a critical discursive psychological study of how embodiment is constructed through talk. Steven conducted interviews with 13 undergraduate international students about their experiences of using the internet (see Stanley, 2001a, 2001b). He became interested in analysing what the participants were expressing and perhaps also repressing in their interviews with him.

His interest in how identities are constructed and reconstructed through talk was developed during his Ph.D., completed in 2005, supervised by Professor Michael Billig (link to in the Discourse and Rhetoric Group of the School of Social Sciences at Loughborough University. His ESRC funded doctoral thesis is a discursive psychological investigation of the ideological dilemmas of doing a Ph.D. in the social sciences. ‘Doctoral Dilemmas: A Discursive Psychology of Postgraduate Education’ (link to is a reflexive interview-based investigation of the experiences of 16 doctoral research students, particularly in terms of how power dynamics between the doctoral students and their supervisors are constructed (see Stanley and Billig, 2004a, 2004b; Stanley, 2005a, 2006). Steven’s external examiner was Professor Margaret Wetherell (link to (Open University): “There are very few studies of doctoral education particularly conducted by and for doctoral students themselves. This Ph.D. makes a major empirical and substantive contribution to knowledge and also an important practical contribution: it should be recommended reading for all students and supervisors”.

After completing his Ph.D., producing publications, and giving presentations based on his Ph.D., Steven collaborated with SOCSI colleagues and the BPS to accredit the psychology pathway of BSc Social Science from 2014/2015 entry, which was followed by curriculum and module development. He also engaged in a period of historical scholarship, investigating the role of embodiment in the dialogic psychology of Voloshinov and Bakhtin which resulted in conference presentations (Stanley, 2007b, 2008). This led to a period as an officer on the committee of the BPS History and Philosophy of Psychology (link to section.

Along with the analysis of discourse, Steven has had a long-standing interest in embodiment. Personally, he began a regular mind-body movement practice (Qigong) in 2000. He conducted this practice alongside his academic work, whilst debates were occurring in psychology about a ‘turn to embodiment’. Following his Ph.D., Steven became interested in how he could integrate his personal and professional concerns. A turning point came when he was introduced to the secular Buddhism of Stephen Batchelor and began practicing mindfulness meditation in 2006. In 2007, at his first silent meditation retreat with John Peacock at Gaia House ( in Devon, Steven became inspired by the possibility of integrating secular Buddhist practice and critical social psychology. This was the beginning of a long-term investigation of early and modern Buddhist theory and practice, involving extensive scholarship, training, personal development and retreat practice, supported by: a period of study leave in 2009; an Insight Dialogue professional training retreat with Gregory Kramer and Patricia Genoud in 2010; and completing the Committed Dharma Practitioners Programme (link to at Gaia House/Sharpham College in 2011/2012.

During his study leave, Steven visited the Centre for Mindfulness Research and Practice (link to in the School of Psychology at Bangor University, beginning a research collaboration with Rebecca Crane (link to, the Centre Director. He also began research collaborations with Rebecca Barnes (link to (University of Bristol), Duncan Moss (link to (University of Plymouth) and Meg Barker (link to (Open University). He also developed a research project proposal in collaboration with Gaia House for a study comprising a mindfulness-based intervention for incarcerated populations.

Steven has given a number of invited keynote addresses, talks and workshops on mindfulness at academic conferences (see Talks: Stanley, 2009, 2010a, 2010b, 2010c, 2011a, 2011b, 2012a, 2012b, 2013) as well co-organising a ‘Mindfulness and Society’ weekend conference/retreat for academics and practitioners at Sharpham House (Devon) with Meg Barker.

Memberships / External Activities

  • Officer on Committee of BPS History and Philosophy of Psychology Section.
  • Co-founder of SOCSI Qualitative Analysis Research Cluster (link TBA).
  • Co-founder of SOCSI Bakhtin Circle Reading Group.
  • Peer reviewer and referee of articles and books for International Journal of Critical Psychology, Narrative Inquiry, Qualitatative Research, Teaching and Teacher Education, Theory & Psychology, Open University Press, and Blackwell.


  • Stanley, S. (2010). From discourse to awareness: a comparison of discursive constructionist and Buddhist mindfulness approaches to mind. Paper presented at the BPS Social Psychology Section Conference, University of Winchester (7th-9th September).
  • Stanley, S. (2010). Mindfulness as a qualitative research methodology for psychology? Workshop at the BPS Qualitative Methods in Psychology (QMiP) Section Conference, University of Nottingham (23rd-25th August)
  • Stanley, S. (2009). The mindful practitioner: towards mindfulness as social inquiry. Keynote address delivered at the Mindfulness and Wellbeing: From Spirituality to Neuroscience Conference, Department of Psychology, University of East London (20th-21st November).
  • Stanley, S. (2008). Beyond dialogue? The drama of bodily life in Bakhtin's Rabelais and His World. Paper presented at the BPS History and Philosophy of Psychology Section Conference, Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford University (25th - 27th March).
  • Stanley, S. (2007). Looking backward, 2007 to 1929: the historical and contemporary relevance of V. N. Voloshinov’s Marxism and the Philosophy of Language. Paper presented at the BPS History and Philosophy of Psychology Section Conference, Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford University (3rd – 5th April).
  • Stanley, S. (2007). Repression, ambivalence and the Ph.D: towards a psychoanalytic discursive psychology of doctoral education. Paper presented in the ‘Psychoanalysis, Organisational Practice and the Political’ stream of the Fifth Critical Management Studies Conference, Mancester University, Manchester (11th – 13th July).

Teaching Profile

Since 2003, Steven’s main teaching responsibilities have been with the British Psychological Society (link to (BPS) accredited social psychology modules on BPS pathways through BA Education and BSc Social Science undergraduate degrees. The BPS syllabus is taught critically in the context of the interdisciplinary social sciences. Steven is module convenor for first year Introduction to Social Psychology in which students are introduced to experimental and critical varieties of social psychology. He teaches discursive perspectives in social psychology on second year Psychology and Social Behaviour, and perspectives on embodiment in social psychology in third year Issues in Social and Cultural Psychology. He is also module convenor for third year Language & Mind which includes a semester engaging with debates about embodiment in cognitive science through  contemplative education – including the practice of mindfulness. In addition to his undergraduate teaching, Steven teaches introductory psychology and mindfulness to students taking MA Social Work, as well as critical psychology at postgraduate level.


Since 2003, Steven has successfully supervised many students pursuing qualitative psychological investigations in their undergraduate and postgraduate dissertations, including critical discursive psychological studies of student volunteering, vegetarianism, and tattoo. He is particularly interested in supervising students interested in qualitative studies which engage in the analysis of language use in action combined with a broader social analysis. He also welcomes inquiries from applicants with a background in psychology and the social sciences to conduct doctoral research projects in the areas of critical social psychology, mindfulness meditation, and social science studies of Buddhist practice.


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