RE: symbolic interactionism and PCP
Fri, 18 Aug 1995 11:57:44 EST

Geoff Pearce has inquired about the relations between personal construct
psychology and symbolic interactionism, and about literature that can
allow one to frame sociological explanations in terms of a more psychological

Regarding the links between personal construct psychology and
symbolic interactionism, I think that there is both similarity and difference.
The similarity, of course, follows from the observation that both theories
speak of the construction of meaning. However, symbolic interactionism
places meaning construction more in the domain of social interaction using
symbols and gestures, whereas Kelly places meaning construction more within
the individual. The models are compatable on many fronts.

I think that there is much good literature that addresses the
intersection between the sociological and psychological in the process of
interactions between child and adult. An expeptional review of current
research on the negotiation of meaning (and the role of the parent in
structuring interactions) can be found in Rogoff, B. (1990). Apprenticeship
in Thinking. New York: Oxford.

Also, Alan Fogel's book *Developing through relationhips* addresses
this issue (University of Chicago Press, 1993). Look also for work by
Trevarthen, Kenneth Kaye and others.

A recent book by Hermans and Kempen (1993) *The Dialogical Self*
addresses explicitly the issue of power in the social construction of
meaning between child and parent.

Good luck in your efforts!

I would like to raise an issue that should in no way be construed as
an attack on the person who has asked this question. I sometimes become
frustrated by questions about the relationship between such and such
school of thought and PCP. One reason is that such questions often treat
PCP as a type of monolithic enterprise. In some versions, PCP has been
monolithic, and I think this is a problem. I think that we should stop
thinking in terms of monolithic theoretical systems of yesteryear (PCP,
symbolic interactionism) -- let's work to embrace new systems of thought,
to integrate these old systems with new systems, and the like. Mead's
symbolic interactionism has many problematic assumptions (it was, after all,
dubbed social behaviorism by its author) and Kelly's system needs to be
reworked as well. Let's look to the future rather than the past, toward
dynamic systems models of social relations, social constructionism, neo-
whateverism -- take your pick -- but lets look forward rather than backward.

All the very best!
Mike Mascolo