Modern local communities as ubiquitous social ecosystems: Disentangling the contribution of social media to community experiences and interactions

Webinar with Flora Gatti, May 12, 2022, 4.30 PM (CET)
Discussant: Alexander P. Schouten

Please register here

About the webinar

In modern times, citizens’ experience of their local communities of belonging (that is, neighborhoods and cities) has complexified. On the one hand, such communities have become increasingly spatially and socially closed (Gatti & Procentese, 2020), with consequences in terms of opportunities for citizens to experience their social dimensions. On the other hand, the widespread use of location-based social media as integral parts of everyone’s daily life has made them more complex social ecosystems which include social interactions, dynamics, and opportunities related to both online and physical environments (Tonkiss, 2014).

Thanks to their features, these technologies can make the boundaries between online and offline social dynamics, relationships, and interactions permeable, favoring their integration (Gatti & Procentese, 2020a, 2021; Van De Wiele & Tong, 2014). In this vein, their affordances make them suitable for answering individuals’ social and community-related needs (Gatti & Procentese, 2020b; Van De Wiele & Tong, 2014) and enriching citizens’ local community experience (Gatti & Procentese, 2020a, 2021; Hsiao & Dillahunt, 2017).

Within this framework and by relying on the results from four studies, I will address how modern local community experience is shaped by the interplay of (a) citizens’ self-in-community (Pretty et al., 2003), (b) the physical and social features of their neighborhoods and cities, and (c) their use of ubiquitous, locative, social media with community-related aims. The community-related uses of two mainstream platforms (Instagram and dating People-Nearby Applications) will be deepened as to (a) the needs underlying them and (b) the paths through which they can enhance users’ tie to their local community.

Overall, the complexities related to modern local community experience clearly emerge, suggesting that social media could provide citizens with new opportunities and resources to be activated within the local communities of belonging. Becoming aware of these complexities and of their implications allows opening new perspectives for further research as well as for innovative practices and interventions to be implemented.


About the presenter

Flora Gatti is a post-doc research fellow at the Department of Humanities of the University of Naples Federico II. She achieved her Ph.D. in June 2021 at the University of Naples Federico II. Her research interests revolve around the interplay of online and offline social environments in shaping citizens’ local community experience, the impact of social media use on interpersonal and community relationships, and collaborative social and urban regeneration processes. Currently, she is involved in the development of the Italian local case in the EU-funded project “YouCount – Empowering Youth and Cocreating Social Innovations and Policymaking Through Youth-Focused Citizen Social Science” (Horizon 2020).


About the discussant

Alexander P. Schouten is an associate professor of Business Communication & Digital Media at the Department of Communication and Cognition, Tilburg University. His research and teaching interests include social media use, online collaboration, and online impression management. Within these areas, he is specifically interested in how different media capabilities affect the way in which people and organizations can effectively use new media technologies to communicate, to market, to work together, and to present themselves. Specific topics of study include the social psychology of online communication technology, social and digital media, identity management, social influencers, online dating, IT & organizations, virtual & augmented reality, qualitative and quantitative research methodology.

Applying the capabilities approach to the mental health field: a contribution to the evaluation and innovation of community mental health program

Webinar with Beatrice Sacchetto, 28 April 2022, 18h (CET).

Discussant. Prof. José Ornelas

About the webinar

The capabilities approach emerged as an alternative framework for evaluating quality of life, considering broader dimensions of well-being and pointing out the role of the social and political arena that may hinder or foster individuals’ potential. In this sense, it seems to share the same underlying ecological perspective as community psychology, encompassing an understanding of people as social beings within interpersonal, social, institutional, and political networks. The capabilities account is also consistent with community mental health models based on empowerment, recovery and community integration; in fact, the capabilities focus on individual agency and choice converges with decision-making power, self-determination and social participation.

The capabilities framework is particularly relevant for groups that suffer discrimination and social exclusion, as they may need more institutional and social support than other socially advantaged groups to access social opportunities and achieve their potential. Throughout the history people with mental health problems have suffered social exclusion and lack of power in the mental health system. Moreover, the involvement of people with mental health challenges in research and service evaluation has traditionally been scarce, especially in the construction of outcome measures.

The current webinar will present a research with the main aim of contributing to the evaluation and innovation of community mental health programs, presenting a new measure – the Achieved Capabilities Questionnaire for Community Mental Health (ACQ-CMH) – based on the capabilities framework and developed through collaboration with people with lived experience of mental illness.

It will also be highlighted a) the innovation of the theoretical capabilities approach, considering the historical and current background of the mental health field; b) the linkages with community psychology models and values; c) the relevance of the collaborative approach in research and evaluation in the mental health field; d) the main research results and its implications for transformative change.


About the presenter

Dr. Beatrice Sacchetto completed her PhD in Community Psychology in 2021, at the ISPA-University Institute of Lisbon. She is actually an Integrated Researcher of the Applied Psychology Research Center Capabilities & Inclusion – APPsyCI, and the coordinator of the community center of the Association for the Study and Psychosocial Rehabilitation (AEIPS), an NGO in Lisbon that provides support services for people with experience of mental illness.

She recently coordinated an EEA Grants project on leadership, capabilities and empowerment in mental health, and previously worked in an IC&DT FCT project on community integration and capabilities of people with mental health challenges. Dr. Sacchetto has a large experience in both research and intervention in mental health towards a community psychology perspective, applying collaborative approaches to promote community-centered and empowering processes and results. Particularly, she has widely investigated and published about the adaption of Nussbaum’s capabilities framework to the community mental health field, in order to provide an innovative evaluative framework for community mental health programs.


About the discussant

Prof. José Ornelas is a Clinical and Community Psychologist, specialized in community intervention and integration of people in extremely vulnerable situations. Completed his first doctoral degree in the Boston University (USA) – 1979-1984; and a second doctoral degree in the University of Oporto (1999). He completed his aggregation in the University of the Azores (2009). From 2016 to 2019 Ornelas was the principal investigator of the Horizon 2020 HOME_EU Reversing Homelessness in Europe, GA/726997, and is currently the coordinator of the EEAGRANTS Project (OC4-B11 | ISPA) PEER NETWORK: Gender Violence and Empowerment. He is the scientific adviser of a community-based program on the promotion of educational achievement in 5 Portuguese national counties, in parallel with teaching and research supervision of Master’s and Doctoral theses on Psychology.

“PEER NETWORK”: A Community-Based Advocacy Program to contrast Gender Violence

Webinar with Maria Vargas Moniz, on the International Day of the Elimination of Violence against Women (November 25, 2021)

About the webinar

It is broadly acknowledged that over the past three decades, communities and countries have intensively worked to increase the capacity to respond to violence against women, yet many women still do not receive the services they prioritize and need to end the violence they are experiencing (Sullivan and Bybee, 1999; Cardoso and Ornelas, 2021). The webinar addresses the conceptualization of Community-Based Advocacy and System-Based Advocacy through the experience of the project titled PEER NETWORK: Gender Violence and Empowerment (EEAGRANTS), being held in Portugal, with transnational partners and consultants in Iceland, and the USA. We are developing an innovative pilot-intervention to promote civic empowerment and engagement of women who are or have been targeted by gender-based violence, domestic violence, discrimination and harassment. Due to the COVID 19 Pandemics, the project has been launched with regular online meetings from all the national Portuguese territory, including women who are migrants, and from rural areas. The project is focused also on awareness actions for: 1) the younger generations, 2) future health professionals, and 3) professionals working on organizations for women who have been affected by gendered violence and discrimination. The challenge of building a network of activists including self-representants. The peer network is focused on survivors supported by professionals bringing about the need for a whole series of renovated professional and personal competencies to support and intervene in the field. Based on the work developed by the Peer Network four main topics have emerged aimed at discussing the policy and practice in the field of gendered violence and discrimination, that are: a) The Experiential Knowledge and Expertise of the Survivors, b) System’s Effectiveness, c) Services Articulation and d) Violence and Discrimination Prevention.

About the speaker

Doctor in Psychology, specialized in Community Psychology Research at the APPsyCI (Applied Psychology Research Center Capabilities and Inclusion)/ISPA – Instituto Universitário. Is the Executive Coordinator of the EEAGRANT-CIG Project “PEER-NETWORK: Gender Violence and Empowerment. Has research interests on women and homelessness and since the 90s is a member of a national PT Civic Organization Women’s Association Against Violence. Integrates the European Community Psychology Association Board (Past-President 2017-2019); integrates the PT National Strategy on Homelessness, and the European Observatory on Service Learning Higher Education.

Examining and challenging immigration detention: what role for community psychology?

Webinar with Francesca Esposito, September 23, 2021. Discussant: Regina Langhout.

About the webinar

During the past few decades, the detention of illegalised non-citizens has become a common practice in a world increasingly characterised by concerns for homeland security and the criminalization of human mobility. In this context, immigration detention centres have become new total institutions used to confine ‘unwanted’ non-citizens, especially coming from the so-called global South, and achieve immigration-related aims such as deportation. This measure, and border control more broadly, is strongly affecting the lives of individuals, their families and communities at large.

Within the quite limited body of empirical research produced on immigration detention, the majority of contributions in the medical and psychological fields have been dedicated to assessing the clinical consequences of detention, detailing the long-term psychological distress that it causes on those subject to it (detainees). Notwithstanding the importance of this research, there is currently a need to adopt an ecological perspective from which to study these sites as well as the experiences of those within them as context-dependent and influenced by power inequalities.

Drawing upon advances in community psychology, I will illustrate an ecological framework for the study of immigration detention settings and their multi-level effects on those inside them. This framework focuses on justice as a key dimension of analysis. Taking the largest Italian detention centre as a case study – the Ponte Galeria detention centre in Rome – I will also present a concrete example of application of this same framework in a research aimed at examining the life and lived experiences of both people detained and practitioners working with them.

Findings highlight the oppressive qualities of immigration detention and its detrimental effects on all people coming into direct or indirect contact with it. Scarcity of resources, activities and information created a very distressing environment for detained people, while also enhancing feelings of powerlessness and frustration in practitioners willing to assist them. Bound in a different space and time, detained people were turned into dispossessed subjects, completely estranged from the outside community. Despite the hostile environment surrounding them, however, people languishing in Ponte Galeria displayed an extraordinary ability to cope with, resist and challenge the persisting conditions of injustice they endured.

I will conclude by discussing the broader implications of these findings for transformative research, politics and action, with a particular focus on the role of community psychologists.


About the presenter

Dr. Francesca Esposito completed her PhD in Community Psychology in 2019, at the ISPA-University Institute of Lisbon, Portugal. From 2019 to 2020 she was a British Academy Newton International Fellow at the Centre for Criminology at the University of Oxford, then a researcher at the Institute of Social Sciences of the University of Lisbon and more recently a Lecturer at the University of Westminster in London. Francesca’s research focuses primarily on immigration detention, in Portugal, Italy and the UK. Mixing qualitative/quantitative interviews and ethnographic observations, she critically examines the life and lived experiences of people inside detention centres. Particularly, her recent project, entitled “Making Gender Visible in Immigration Detention”, looks at the gendered and racialised experiences of detained women and at their strategies of survival and resistance. Francesca is interested in participatory methodologies and feminist community psychology approaches, and in her work she combines scholarly research, community-based intervention and activism. Since 2020, she has been a member of the Executive Board of the European Community Psychology Association (ECPA).


About the discussant

Professor Langhout’s primary research takes place in elementary schools and neighborhoods that serve working class and working poor African American, Latina/o, and white students. She uses a paradigm called participatory action research (PAR) to critically examine schools and neighborhoods. With PAR, stakeholder groups collaborate to determine problems and interventions. Her empirical research includes determining recess interventions though playground observations and focus groups, surveying teachers, parents, and students to assess their perceptions of school context, and working with young people to develop and paint a mural on school grounds in order to create a more welcoming atmosphere for students and their families.

Hearing young children on topics of global importance

Webinar with May Lene Karlsen, 27 May 2021. Discussant: Stefania Maggi

About the webinar

Hearing children is of interest to anyone who believes that every voice is important for a society to be whole. It is of interest to those who believe that to neglect, marginalise or systematically overlook a group of people, is to deprive our communities of the qualities that only this particular group can offer. Hearing children is not just a concern for those working directly with and for children, but for all who believes in a society where every voice counts.

The international community, through the United Nations convention for children’s rights, have agreed that every child have a right to be heard and yet we find that few active attempts are being made at engaging and hearing young children on the big issues facing our world today. Why is this?  Do children under the age of 12 have a place in the social discourse on topics such as the pandemic, inequality and racism? Can they contribute to politics and policymaking in meaningful ways? What could systematic attempts at hearing young children on big issues look like? These are some of the questions that will be explored in this webinar, drawing on examples and experiences gained through the Children Heard project.

Children Heard was initiated in March 2020 by a counselling psychologist in the UK and a community psychologist in Norway. Through partnerships with three UNICEF offices in Europe, they gathered the views of 240 children aged 3-12 about their experiences and opinions on the pandemic. The project is currently gathering views on racism through a family-based interview and are experimenting with methods of engaging young children on topics of global importance.

About the presenter

May Lene Karlsen is a counselling and community psychologist. She completed her doctorate in Counselling Psychology at the University of Surrey in 2010 and have since then worked in services for children and families with a particular interest in pre- and primary school aged children. In addition to clinical work, she has worked as an associated and visiting lecturer at several doctoral programmes in the UK, as clinical lead for a children’s charity in London and now as a community psychologist for a local government in Norway. She is a committee member of the Community Psychology Section of the British Psychological Society and an active member of her own local community in Sandefjord, Norway. She co-founded Children Heard in 2020 with Dr. Gail Sinitsky.


About the discussant

Dr. Maggi is an interdisciplinary scholar whose mixed-methods research bring together developmental sciences, population health approaches, participatory methods, statistical modelling, and arts-based approaches. Her work focuses on individual and collective resilience; positive development and emotional intelligence; social, educational and relational determinants of early career development; impacts of climate change on children and families; and enabling factors promoting individual and collective environmental behaviours and action.  Dr. Maggi is also a science fiction author, an entrepreneur, and child rights advocate. She is cross appointed between the Childhood and Youth Studies program and the Department of Psychology at Carleton University.

How the COVID-19 pandemic provides an opportunity to rethink desinstitutionalization in Europe

Webinar with José Ornelas, April 29, 2021

About the webinar

Deinstitutionalization is a theory transformed into a social movement after the II World War, focused on the transition of all individuals who were in institutions to community contexts, contributing to diversity within the social realm. With the emergence of Civic and Human Rights Movements, deinstitutionalization became a priority including people with mental illness, people with disabilities, children, youth, and elders.

Nevertheless, evidence demonstrates that the majority of people were involved in a continuum of services of transinstitutionalization from large scale segregated wards to smaller segregated housing, employment and schooling programs in the community. From the self representation movement, and experiential leadership of consumers/ survivors, emerged a new wave of services and programs (e.g. independent housing, employment and education in regular markets and and schools) still not fully generalized in Europe. 

The pandemic contingency brought awareness on the extension and volume of  institutionalized people, particularly the more recent massive segregation of elders, while the psychiatric wards, and the large group homes for the disabled people, and for children & youth were mostly maintained. In these contexts countless COVID 19 surges emerged, providing a renovated awareness about the urgency of reclaiming deinstitutionalization as a Human Right. We are now prepared with tools for community research and practice to provide a direct response to deinstitutionalization and social integration through housing with the Housing First Model, with employment and education programs through ecological and collaborative integration in the social and community regular contexts.

About the presenter

Prof. Ornelas is a Clinical and Community Psychologist, specialized in community intervention and integration of people in extremely vulnerable situations. Completed his first doctoral degree in the Boston University (USA) – 1979-1984; and a second doctoral degree in the University of Oporto (1999). He completed his aggregation in the University of the Azores (2009). 

From 2016 to 2019 Ornelas was the principal investigator of the Horizon 2020 HOME_EU Reversing Homelessness in Europe, GA/726997, and is currently the coordinator of the EEAGRANTS Project (OC4-B11 | ISPA) PEER NETWORK: Gender Violence and Empowerment. He is the scientific adviser of a community-based program on the promotion of educational achievement in 5 Portuguese national counties, in parallel with teaching and research supervision of Master’s and Doctoral thesis on Psychology.

Contrasting gender violence: a community psychology perspective

Webinar with Caterina Arcidiacono, November 26, 2020

About the webinar

This webinar is aimed to present a community psychology vision of sexual and gender violence against women. In the frame of the Istanbul convention, there is the need to recall meanings and procedures in an ecological approach to gender violence (Di Napoli et al, 2019). Frequently psychologists are deepening the individual or at least the systemic perspective, but are not taking into account all the implications of the joint effects of cultural, organizational relational and individual impact of this phenomenon.

Effects of Covid-19 home lockdown on domestic and assisted violence are then at stake. Intimate partner violence is affected by this protracted and forced cohabitation and psychologists have to be able to understand and to intervene.

Moreover, assuming that violence against women is in term of violation of women right to self-determination in this moment, at European level there is the need to be aware of the Polish situation where women self-determination is heavily undermined by the recent provisions on abortion.

This year the 25th of November, the UN day to celebrate women fight against gender violence will be supported on the 26 November 2020 by an ECPA webinar focusing on psychological knowledge and actions to prevent and contrast violence against women.

About the presenter

Caterina Arcidiacono is a psychologist, Jungian analyst (IAAP – International Association for Analytical Psychology). Full Professor of Community Psychology. Former Coordinator of the PhD Course in Gender Studies, of Federico II University of Naples. Past President of ECPA (European Community Psychology Association). She is founder of ENCP (European Network of Community Psychologists) and ECPA (European Community Psychology Association). Currently member of the EFPA standing Committee on Community Psychology.

She organized the first Italian scientific workshop on Women and gender Identity (FrancoAngeli Editore, 1990). Her peculiar research’ areas concern the woman-man relationship with special reference to gender asymmetry and gender violence, community psychology competencies, well-being, power asymmetry,  intercultural dialogue, and migration. Director of the international online gender journal: La Camera Blu. She is co-director of the online international journal: Community Psychology in Global Perspective (CPGP) and co-editor of the IJERPH  special issue: Gender Violence Against Women: Prevention, Protection, Prosecution, Policies.

The presenter can be contacted at caterina.arcidiacono@unina.it or by skype: caterina_arcidiacono

Participation at the event is free of charge, but registration is compulsory. Please click here to register.

Refugees in Europe: How are community psychologists responding?

Webinar with Serdar M. Değirmencioğlu, October 27, 2020.

About the webinar

Mainstream psychology suffers from a number of biases (e.g., Eurocentrism, colonial approaches, individualistic assumptions, militarism) which make it difficult to relate to and work with the increasing number of refugees arriving in Europe. Moreover, the dominant service model in mainstream psychology focuses on preexisting expertise and competences. If the experts are lacking, then it is acceptable to say “Unable to offer services”.

Psychology students, for instance, are considered incapable of proper engagement and are, therefore, not asked to contribute. These biases need to be considered to grasp why mainstream approaches are not compatible with meeting the needs of the refugees. Community psychology appears to be uniquely well-situated to respond to refugees. An informal survey of community psychologists in 2019 indicated a willingness to work with refugees but a discussion of the existing barriers is needed.

About the presenter

Serdar M. Değirmencioğlu is a visiting Scholar at FernUniversität in Hagen, LG Community Psychology.





How systems get unstuck from within: perceiving interdependency in community and nature.

Webinar with Nora Bateson, July 9, 2020.

About the presenter

Nora Bateson is an award-winning filmmaker, writer and educator, as well as President of the International Bateson Institute, based in Sweden. Her work asks the question “How we can improve our perception of the complexity we live within, so we may improve our interaction with the world?”. An international lecturer, researcher and writer, Nora wrote, directed and produced the award-winning documentary, An Ecology of Mind, a portrait of her father, Gregory Bateson. Her work brings the fields of biology, cognition, art, anthropology, psychology, and information technology together into a study of the patterns in ecology of living systems. Her book, Small Arcs of Larger Circles, released by Triarchy Press, UK, 2016 is a revolutionary personal approach to the study of systems and complexity.

As an educator she has developed curricula for schools in Northern California and produced and directed award winning multimedia projects on intercultural and ecological understanding. Her work, which has been presented at the world’s top universities, is described as “offering audiences a lens through which to see the world that effects not only the way we see, but also the way we think”. Nora’s work in facilitating cross-disciplinary discussions is part of her research into what she calls “the ecology of the conversation”. Her speaking engagements include keynote addresses and lectures at international conferences and universities on a wide range of topics that span the fields of anti-fascism, ecology, education, the arts, family therapy, leadership, and many more aspects of advocacy for living systems — she travels between conversations in different fields bringing multiple perspectives into view to reveal larger patterns.

Memberships and awards: Chairman International Bateson Institute, Associate of The Taos Institute, Board Member: Human Systems Journal of Systemic Practice, Tallberg Foundation, Fellow of Lindsifarne Foundation, Bateson Idea Group (BIG), Club of Rome, Great Transition Foundation, Human Potential Foundation, Awards: Sustainable Thompkins Ecology Award, Winner Spokane Film Festival, Winner Santa Cruz Film Festival, Media Ecology Award.

The source: https://batesoninstitute.org/nora-bateson/