top of page

Books written or edited by Barry Richards

2019. The Psychology of Politics. Abingdon, UK: Routledge. (Audiobook edition 2020)

This is one of the Routledge 'Psychology of Everything' series of short books designed as introductions to different topics for the general reader. It discusses some key topics in political psychology - leaders, nations, ideologies and inequalities - in the context of two fundamental psychological needs, for safety and for dignity. 

​2018. What Holds Us Together: Popular Culture and Social Cohesion. London: Karnac.

This book (in Karnac's 'Psychoanalysis and Popular Culture' series) includes three previously published essays (two of which were co-written, with Joanne Brown and Karl Figlio respectively). These examine how we are emotionally supported, as well as shaped, by our embeddedness in our societies and cultures, and the 'modalities of containment' which they offer. Three new essays build on those ideas and point towards the conclusion that democracy depends upon emotionally meaningful forms of national identity. 

2007. Emotional Governance: Politics, Media and Terror. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Here I make the case for researchers to study, and politicians to engage with, the emotional public sphere, that is the complex emotional dynamics of national publics. The focus is on the need for emotionally literate and responsive styles of leadership, and the responsibilities of politicians and media to contain anxiety and limit toxicity. The example of public emotion around contemporary terrorism is discussed in detail. In addition, the book presents critical assessments of journalism's role as a contribution to the emotional public sphere, and of the influence of marketing techniques on political communication.

2000. The Dynamics of Advertising, co-authored with Iain MacRury and Jackie Botterill. Amsterdam: Harwood Academic Publishers.

Based on a psychosocial study of British and American print advertisements from 1950 to the late 1990s, this book argues that advertisements, whatever their effects in promoting sales, contribute significantly to the emotional public sphere, offering symbols and narratives which individuals can use in managing their anxieties. Changes in their content across the period studied reflect changes in both culture and our individual identities, linked to an increasing anxiety about risk in modern society.

1997. Buy This Book: Studies in Advertising and Consumption, edited by Mica Nava, Andrew Blake, Iain MacRury & Barry Richards. Abingdon, UK: Routledge.

This book was based on papers given at a conference at the University of East London in 1994, organised by UEL's Centre for Consumer and Advertising Studies of which I was co-founder with Mica Nava. The Centre initiative was part of an emerging cross-disciplinary effort to examine how the practices and experiences of consumption were at the centre of contemporary culture. Its specific contribution was in the combination of cultural history and psychosocial/psychoanalytic perspectives.

1994. Disciplines of Delight. The Psychoanalysis of Popular Culture. London: Free Association Books.

(Also translated into Persian by Hossein Payandeh, Tarh Press: Tehran, 2003.)

This book is a set of essays on key components of British popular culture: music, football, advertising and consumer goods - especially cars, and images of the 'countryside'. Across these areas of everyday experience, it finds a common theme in their appeal: they offer both pleasure to us as individuals, and a sense of belonging to a social whole. The latter is linked to experiences of constraint by rules, and so it sets limits to pleasure, but overall our immersion in popular culture can bring psychic benefit in the affirmation of societal membership, and in reconciling us to the need for societal authority. This is important for both the coherence of the individual self and the cohesion of society.

1989. Images of Freud: Cultural Responses to Psychoanalysis. London: J.M. Dent & Sons.

Tracing the reception of Freud's ideas in academic psychology and in radical political thought, this book concludes that the essentially tragic yet hopeful message of psychoanalysis has been regularly traduced. When not rejected outright, it has been appropriated into theories quite different from psychoanalysis, with roots in either Utilitarian or Romantic thought. While apparently opposed, these dominant traditions in Western philosophy have in common an antipathy to the psychoanalytic vision of selfhood as emerging from internal conflict and based on unconscious identifications with others.

1989. Crises of the Self. Further Essays on Psychoanalysis and Politics. London: Free Association Books.

This is an edited collection of fifteen essays, two of which are by myself as editor and the others by academics and clinicians all working in various ways to bring psychoanalysis to bear on issues in social policy, popular culture and politics. It was a follow-up to the 1984 book Capitalism and Infancy (see below), and was based on papers initially presented at the first 'Psychoanalysis and the Public Sphere' conference held in London in 1987.

1984. Capitalism and Infancy. Essays on Psychoanalysis and Politics. London: Free Association Books.

This edited volume was one of the first UK-based contributions to the project of using contemporary psychoanalytic theory to develop fresh approaches to political debates. The predominant psychoanalytic influence is from British object-relations and Kleinian traditions, although three of the eight contributions present the work of pathbreaking American scholars (Lasch, Elshtain, Kovel). My subsequent work moved away from the Marxist influence present in this book, but I have continued to see the fundamentals of early psychic development as key to understanding many debates and conflicts in politics and culture.

Books: Welcome
bottom of page