Dr Lucy Stroud

ISRF Independent Scholar Fellow 2023-24

Dr Lucy Stroud

ISRF Independent Scholar Fellow 2023-24

Dr Stroud’s PhD research at the University of Aberdeen focused on analysing Real Life magazines through a psychosocial lens, drawing on her extensive experience as a journalist working on national newspapers and Real Life magazines. Her research highlights the neoliberal agenda embedded in the production and consumption of Real Life magazines, examining their emotional and psychosocial impact on readers and the broader media environment. With her particular interest in socio-economic and political loss, she applies a psychosocial lens to her research to explore the psychical implications of loss and how it becomes inscribed in a particularly classed and gendered form of melancholia. Since completing her PhD, Dr Stroud has been delighted to work for the Aberdeen cultural organisation Station House Media Unit (shmu), contributing to their work empowering people from lower socio-economic backgrounds to take space in the media, make their voices heard and share their experiences authentically – work that helps challenge dominant conceptions of class and gender. Dr Stroud is on the Executive Board of the Association of Psychosocial Studies and is a Scholar of the British Psychoanalytic Council.

Re-imagining the Real Life magazine, teenage girls and melancholic communities

This project works with socially deprived teenage girls from Aberdeen to create a real life magazine. The pandemic hasdisproportionately affected this demographic, who report high levels of poor mental wellbeing associated with increasing social media engagement (Crenna-Jennings, 2021). Adopting a psychosocial methodology, the project examines hidden dimensions of the lived experiences such as the effects of social and economic inequality on the participant’s sense of self, community, and future aspirations.It will deploy a Participatory Action Research (PAR) methodology with focus groups and workshops to explore the power of community-based creative media work to contain complex experience, while empowering participants to challenge media messages. Transferable journalism skills will be provided through workshops to facilitate the collective magazine-making project and bonding

This project works with socially deprived teenage girls in Aberdeen to create a ‘real life’ magazine to explore and archive the lived experiences of this demographic. This demographic, disproportionately affected by the pandemic, report high levels of poor mental wellbeing (Crenna-Jennings, 2021). The project takes further my concept of ‘social melancholia’: the psychosocial phenomenon whichmanifests when there has been no social or communal space to grieve the many socio-economic and political losses that have been experienced by those from a lower socio-economic background. This lack of resources and opportunity to form collectives, gain andsustain support from one another further isolate the already vulnerable individuals. This is compounded by the highly sexualised media representations of young femininity (Young & Trickett, 2017) and the public discourse which excludes them from making meaningful political engagement and participation. Key research questions are:

  1. How and in what ways do socio-economic and political losses impact the lived experiences of socially deprived teenage girls?
  2. How and in what ways do they experience media representations of the demographic? How do they understand this and what are its impacts on participants’ agency, community, and future aspirations?
  3. How and in what ways do these experiences affect their political engagement and participation? What are the challenges and barriers for them?
  4. How and in what ways do structural inequalities intersect with other oppressed categories in the lived experience of these young girls?

Current research has highlighted that teenage girls experience ‘lower mental wellbeing, more often feeling lonely and were less likely toreport feeling optimistic’ about their future (Secondary school-aged pupils in Scotland – mental wellbeing, relationships and social media:report, 2021) linked to the higher usage of social media time amongst teenage girls being a risk to mental wellbeing. The Millennium Cohort Study, a longitudinal survey, that researches the same teenagers born in 2000-02, found in their latest study stark inequalities in levels of psychological distress with females, white teenagers, those from disadvantaged backgrounds all more likely to experience ill mental health. However, there is no research that has attempted to contain or transform these prevalent feelings expressed. This project seeks to find ways of filling that gap, which has been further underlined by the disproportionate impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on those from lower socio-economic backgrounds (McPhee, 2020). The project will explore the psychosocial impact of the pandemic and how might it be mitigated. The project seeks to work with disadvantaged teenage girls to create a ‘real’ real life magazine.Training will be provided in media and social media skills. The group, it is hoped, will form a community to help to counteract the increasing loneliness reported by this demographic (Walsh, 2021) and will provide space for stimulating conversations that are fulfilling, rather than limiting participants to simulations mediated through technology e.g. WhatsApp/ Facetime.

Contacting Fellows

If you would like to contact any of our Fellows to discuss their ISRF-funded work, please contact Dr Lars Cornelissen (Academic Editor) in the first instance, at [email protected].