What is DISCURSIVE PSYCHOLOGY? What does DISCURSIVE PSYCHOLOGY mean? DISCURSIVE PSYCHOLOGY meaning - DISCURSIVE PSYCHOLOGY definition - DISCURSIVE PSYCHOLOGY explanation.
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Discursive psychology (DP) is a form of discourse analysis that focuses on psychological themes in talk, text and images.
As a counter to mainstream psychology’s treatment of discourse as a “mirror” for people’s expressions of thoughts, intentions, motives, etc., DP’s founders made the case for picturing it instead as if a “construction yard” wherein all such presumptively prior and independent notions of thought and so on were built from linguistic materials, topicalised and, in various less direct ways, handled and managed. Here, the study of the psychological implies commitment not to the inner life of the mind, but rather, to the written and spoken practices within which people invoked, implicitly or explicitly, notions precisely like “the inner life of the mind”. Discursive psychology therefore starts with psychological phenomena as things that are constructed, attended to, and understood in interaction. An evaluation, say, may be constructed using particular phrases and idioms, responded to by the recipient (as a compliment perhaps) and treated as the expression of a strong position. In discursive psychology the focus is not on psychological matters somehow leaking out into interaction; rather interaction is the primary site where psychological issues are live. It is philosophically opposed to more traditional cognitivist approaches to language. It uses studies of naturally occurring conversation to critique the way that topics have been conceptualised and treated in psychology.
The origins of what is now termed "discursive psychology" can arguably be traced to the late 1980s, and the collaborative research and analysis sessions that took place as part of Loughborough University's then newly formed Discourse and Rhetoric Group (DARG). A key landmark was the publication of Jonathan Potter and Margaret Wetherell's classic text 'Discourse and social psychology: Beyond attitudes and behaviour' in 1987. Charles Antaki, writing in the 'Times Higher Education Supplement', described the impact of this book: 'Potter and Wetherell have genuinely presented us with a different way of working in social psychology. The book's clarity means that it has the power to influence a lot of people ill-at-ease with traditional social psychology but unimpressed with (or simply bewildered by) other alternatives on offer. It could rescue social psychology from the sterility of the laboratory and its traditional mentalism'. The field itself was originally labeled as DP during the early 1990s by Derek Edwards and Jonathan Potter at Loughborough University. It has since been developed and extended by a number of others, including (but by no means limited to): Charles Antaki, Malcolm Ashmore, Frederick Attenborough, Bethan Benwell, Steve Brown, Carly Butler, Derek Edwards, Alexa Hepburn, Eric Laurier, Hedwig te Molder, Jonathan Potter, Sue Speer, Liz Stokoe, Cristian Tileaga, Margaret Wetherell, Sally Wiggins and Sue Wilkinson. Discursive Psychology draws on the philosophy of mind of Ryle and the later Wittgenstein, the rhetorical approach of Michael Billig, the ethnomethodology of Harold Garfinkel, the conversation analysis of Harvey Sacks and the sociology of scientific knowledge of those like Mike Mulkay, Steve Woolgar and Bruno Latour. The term Discursive Psychology was designed partly to indicate that there was not just a methodological shift at work in this form of analysis, but also, and at the same time, that it involved some fairly radical theoretical rethinking.
Discursive psychology conducts studies of both naturally occurring and experimentally engineered human interaction that offer new ways of understanding topics in social and cognitive psychology such as memory and attitudes. Although discursive psychology subscribes to a different view of human mentality than is advanced by mainstream psychology, Edwards and Potter's work was originally motivated by their dissatisfaction with how psychology had treated discourse. In many psychological studies, the things people (subjects) say are treated as windows (with varying degrees of opacity) into their minds. Talk is seen as (and in experimental psychology and protocol analysis used as) descriptions of people's mental content. In contrast, discursive psychology treats talk as social action; that is, we say what we do as a means of, and in the course of, doing things in a socially meaningful world. Thus, the questions that it makes sense to ask also change.