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Volume 18, Issue 3
  • ISSN: 1476-413X
  • E-ISSN: 1758-9509



This article argues that understanding uncertainty in contemporary societies and its psychosocial consequences is possible through a transdisciplinary perspective. This integrates sociological, psychological, economic and political dimensions. To address this, we offer a critical theoretical reflection that draws on diverse conceptual perspectives within the social sciences. In recent years, in psychological research, uncertainty has been mainly analysed as an intrapsychic phenomenon and as a psychological trait through the concept of (in)tolerance of uncertainty. In contrast, we argue for a psychosocial analysis of uncertainty, considering its socio-economic and political origins, thereby challenging its trait-like analysis. For example, we highlight the inputs of attachment theory for the understanding of uncertainty, connecting it to Marris’s thesis of an unequal distribution of uncertainty and of the power to cope with it (1996). This analysis of uncertainty integrates psychological dimensions with social ones within contemporary western societies, proposing the use of the concept of psychosocial uncertainty. The consequences of uncertainties impact upon employment, relationships and communities, where we can locate the social origins of depression, anxiety, distrust, victim-blaming or lack of cohesion in communities. Besides precarity at work, we now face precarious forms of living, endangering the fundamental processes of psychic and social individuation. Finally, we locate the social origins of uncertainty and its psychological consequences within the responsibilities of social sciences. Drawing on psychology, from social and community psychology to clinical and organizational psychology, we query the relationship between theory and practice. Underpinning this argument is an appreciation of Marris’s contribution to the construction of ‘politics of collaboration/association and reciprocity, as opposed to politics of disempowering uncertainty/dissociation’.


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