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Dr Ricardo Blaug is Reader in Democracy and Political Theory, a qualified and experienced psychiatric social worker and an award-winning author and teacher. He has worked as a democratic theorist, an emergency clinician and a public sector manager in the UK, the US and the Netherlands.

Ricardo conducts academic and practical research with a range of scholars, students and public and voluntary organisations. He teaches political theory and political psychology, supervises doctoral students and facilitates a range of undergraduate student-led initiatives in both research and teaching.

As a historian of ideas, Ricardo seeks social, political and psychological understanding of the unconscious politics of institutional life. By re-examining classic political concerns (such as how power corrupts, how democratic governance and citizen engagement can be institutionalised) - and using contemporary psychological and political theory to do so - he seeks to contribute to the emergence of a critical approach to political psychology.

Educated in the US and the UK with Dr. Gene Orro and Professor Robert Paul Wolff, Ricardo took a Master's (PhD ABD) in Social, Political and Recent Continental Philosophy from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and a Postgraduate Diploma in Social Work (CQSW) from Goldsmith's College, London. His doctoral studies in Political Theory were conducted with Professor Garaint Parry and Dr. Maurizio Passerin D'Entrèves at Manchester University's Department of Government.

Political Psychology

This third year undergraduate module introduces students to the psychological study of politics and concentrates particularly on issues of power in organisations. The module explores three areas of psychological theory: psychoanalysis, social psychology and cognitive psychology, which it uses to investigate organisational dysfunction, authority and conformity, institutional discrimination, contemporary forms of ideology, collective action and political change. In this module, we will work collaboratively as a research group to bring theory to practice, and to try to understand some of the most complex and confounding issues in society, politics and history. For this, no prerequisites are required; the module identifies and builds on individual student interests and offers theoretical frameworks to inform their ongoing study.

Introduction to Political Theory

This module introduces students to the study of politics and political theory. Students are encouraged to explore and sharpen their own political ideas, gain communication and study skills and analyse the changing political processes taking place around them, both locally and globally. Students on the module begin their study of politics by participating in a variety of practical political activities, simulations, debates and departmental innovations in community engagement. They then analyse these experiences using political ideas presented in lectures and explored in seminars. In this way, the module explores key political concepts (power, authority, democracy, justice, rights, etc.) and shows how they inform political institutions, public debates and policy-making. The module seeks to enhance students' intellectual confidence, to encourage theoretical and practical learning through social interaction and community engagement in an international city: London, and to help students acclimatise to what is often a new educational culture: undergraduate study in an era of globalisation and rapid political change.

Taught modules have included:

  • Innovations in Democratic Practice (Westminster) 
  • Theories of Democracy (Leeds) 
  • History of Political Thought (Manchester & Leeds) 
  • Democracy and Democratisation (Westminster) 
  • Critical Theory (Leeds) 
  • Relations of Theory to Practice (Leeds) 
  • Readings of Niccolo Machiavelli (Leiden) 
  • The Political Thought of Thomas Hobbes and John Locke (Leiden)

Ricardo's research is currently in the area of political psychology, though he has also examined innovations in democratic practice and public service reform. In particular, he has published on Habermasian critical theory, deliberative democracy, democratic governance innovation and structures to enhance citizen engagement. His work on public services concentrated on Public Value and its use in processes of reform. This has included consultancy work with public sector practitioners, policy-makers, public commissions and think tanks. His current research examines the psychological politics of institutions and seeks an understanding of the often-unconscious effects of organisational structures (hierarchies, markets, networks, democracy) on individual constructions of meaning and identity (cognition, ideology, the sense of private and public self). His studies on the psychological and informational effects of hierarchy and the cognitive processes by which power corrupts both leaders and followers will appear in the paperback version of his book How Power Corrupts, published by Palgrave Macmillan. This forms part of a larger project to use current advances in psychology to investigate political concerns, and in particular, to provide tools for the diagnosis of institutional dysfunction and to inform processes of social change. This work is reflected in books currently underway on (Intermediate)Tyranny Management, The Democracy Field Manual and in research papers articulating a critical approach to the psychological study of politics. Ricardo is a member of the International Society of Political Psychology, undertakes problem-oriented research with The Research Republic and is on the Advisory Board of the Daedalus Trust.

2016

Pathologies of Power and Cognition (2016)
Blaug, R. 2016. Pathologies of Power and Cognition. in: Garrard, P. and Robinson, G. (ed.) The Intoxication of Power: Interdisciplinary Insights Basingstoke Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 75-88

2008

Direct accountability at the end (2008)
Blaug, R. 2008. Direct accountability at the end. in: White, S. and Leighton, D. (ed.) Building a citizen society: the emerging politics of republican democracy London Lawrence & Wishart. pp. 101-111

2006

Heritage, democracy and public value (2006)
Blaug, R., Horner, L. and Lekhi, R. 2006. Heritage, democracy and public value. in: Clark, K. (ed.) Capturing the public value of heritage: the proceedings of the London conference, 25–26 January 2006 Swindon English Heritage.

2000

Outbreaks of democracy (2000)
Blaug, R. 2000. Outbreaks of democracy. in: The Socialist register Merlin Press. pp. 145-160

1995

All talk? The new deliberative theories of democracy (1995)
Blaug, R. 1995. All talk? The new deliberative theories of democracy. in: Lekhi, R. (ed.) The state of the academy: new reflections on political studies London Network Press.

2016

Transparency and Public Involvement in Animal Research (2016)
Pound, P. and Blaug, R. 2016. Transparency and Public Involvement in Animal Research. Alternatives to Laboratory Animals. 44 (2), pp. 167-173.

2015

Robber Barons: Pioneers Work Best on the Frontier (2015)
Blaug, R. 2015. Robber Barons: Pioneers Work Best on the Frontier. Financial Times, March 31.

2012

Localizando el compromiso público (locating public engagement) (2012)
Blaug, R. 2012. Localizando el compromiso público (locating public engagement). Revista Comunicación y Ciudadanía. 5.

2009

Demonstrating public service responsiveness (2009)
Blaug, R. and Lekhi, R. 2009. Demonstrating public service responsiveness. Parliamentary Brief.
Why is there hierarchy? Democracy and the question of organisational form (2009)
Blaug, R. 2009. Why is there hierarchy? Democracy and the question of organisational form. Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy. 12 (1), pp. 85-99.

2007

Cognition in a hierarchy (2007)
Blaug, R. 2007. Cognition in a hierarchy. Contemporary Political Theory. 6 (1), pp. 24-44.

2004

Perceptions of participation (2004)
Blaug, R. 2004. Perceptions of participation. Renewal: Journal of Labour Politics.

2002

Engineering democracy (2002)
Blaug, R. 2002. Engineering democracy. Political Studies. 50 (1), pp. 102-116.

2000

The thrill has gone: a reply to Professor Ehrenberg (2000)
Blaug, R. 2000. The thrill has gone: a reply to Professor Ehrenberg. New Political Science. 22 (3), pp. 401-402.
Citizenship and political judgment: between discourse ethics and phronesis (2000)
Blaug, R. 2000. Citizenship and political judgment: between discourse ethics and phronesis. Res Publica. 6 (2), pp. 179-198.
Blind hierarchism and radical organizational forms (2000)
Blaug, R. 2000. Blind hierarchism and radical organizational forms. New Political Science. 22 (3), pp. 379-395.

1999

The tyranny of the visible: problems in the evaluation of anti-institutional radicalism (1999)
Blaug, R. 1999. The tyranny of the visible: problems in the evaluation of anti-institutional radicalism. Organization. 6 (1), pp. 33-56.

1997

Between fear and disappointment: critical, empirical and political uses of Habermas (1997)
Blaug, R. 1997. Between fear and disappointment: critical, empirical and political uses of Habermas. Political Studies. 45 (1), pp. 100-117.

1996

New developments in deliberative democracy (1996)
Blaug, R. 1996. New developments in deliberative democracy. Politics. 16 (2), pp. 71-77.
New theories of discursive democracy: a user's guide (1996)
Blaug, R. 1996. New theories of discursive democracy: a user's guide. Philosophy & social criticism. 22 (1), pp. 49-80.

1995

Distortion of face to face: communicative reason and social work practice (1995)
Blaug, R. 1995. Distortion of face to face: communicative reason and social work practice. British Journal of Social Work. 25 (4), pp. 423-439.

1994

Habermas's treatment for relativism (1994)
Blaug, R. 1994. Habermas's treatment for relativism. Politics. 14 (2), pp. 51-57.

1989

Staff anxiety and its management in a day nursery (1989)
Blaug, R. 1989. Staff anxiety and its management in a day nursery. Journal of social work practice. 3 (4), pp. 1-14.

1986

John Rawls and the protection of liberty (1986)
Blaug, R. 1986. John Rawls and the protection of liberty. Social Theory and Practice. 12 (2), pp. 241-258.

2016

Democracy: A Reader. 2nd Edition (2016)
Blaug, R. and Shwarzmantel, J. (ed.) 2016. Democracy: A Reader. 2nd Edition. Edinburgh and New York Columbia University Press.

2013

Democracy: a reader (2013)
Blaug, R. and Schwarzmantel, J.J. (ed.) 2013. Democracy: a reader. Edinburgh Edinburgh University Press.

2010

How power corrupts: cognition and democracy in organisations (2010)
Blaug, R. 2010. How power corrupts: cognition and democracy in organisations. London Palgrave Macmillan.

2001

Democracy: a reader (2001)
Blaug, R. and Schwarzmantel, J.J. (ed.) 2001. Democracy: a reader. Edinburgh Edinburgh University Press.

1999

Democracy, real and ideal: discourse ethics and radical politics (1999)
Blaug, R. 1999. Democracy, real and ideal: discourse ethics and radical politics. Albany State University of New York Press.

2009

Smoke, mirrors and the employment relationship (2009)
Lekhi, R. and Blaug, R. 2009. Smoke, mirrors and the employment relationship. London The Good Work Commission.
Accounting for intangibles: financial reporting and value creation in the knowledge economy (2009)
Blaug, R. and Lekhi, R. 2009. Accounting for intangibles: financial reporting and value creation in the knowledge economy. The Work Foundation.

2008

Job quality & work organisation in the UK and Europe: a literature review for the HSE (2008)
Lekhi, R. and Blaug, R. 2008. Job quality & work organisation in the UK and Europe: a literature review for the HSE. HSE (Health & Safety Executive).

2007

Stress at work: a report prepared for The Work Foundation’s principal partners (2007)
Blaug, R., Kenyon, A. and Lekhi, R. 2007. Stress at work: a report prepared for The Work Foundation’s principal partners. London The Work Foundation.

2006

Deliberative democracy and the role of public managers. Final report of The Work Foundation’s public value consortium. November 2006 (2006)
Horner, L., Lekhi, R. and Blaug, R. 2006. Deliberative democracy and the role of public managers. Final report of The Work Foundation’s public value consortium. November 2006. London The Work Foundation.
Public value, citizen expectations and user commitment: a literature review (2006)
Blaug, R., Horner, L. and Lekhi, R. 2006. Public value, citizen expectations and user commitment: a literature review. London The Work Foundation.
Public value and local communities: a literature review (2006)
Blaug, R., Horner, L., Kenyon, A. and Lekhi, R. 2006. Public value and local communities: a literature review. London The Work Foundation.
Public value, politics and public management: a literature review (2006)
Blaug, R., Horner, L. and Lekhi, R. 2006. Public value, politics and public management: a literature review. London The Work Foundation.

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