Post-Modem, PCP & FUN

W Ramsay (
Wed, 20 Sep 1995 16:43:37 +0100

John Fallon writes:

>The theory will become obsolete unless it is
>proven to be fertile and useful in its present and evolving form on the basis
>of its utility to its new and old users. Making it more accessible,
>useable, and useful must remain a goal of all adherents.
>Using the theory effectively to solve problems (or to help the client solve
>problems) better than and/or more simply than other theories causes others to
>wish to use the theory.

and so on.

I have been reminded in recent weeks, by some of the "slot rattling"
arguments that John also refers to, of an old English ( .. or Jewish, or
Phoenician) joke in which Bill (no relation), a coster-monger fallen upon
hard times, is forced to eat some of the tins of sardines which form the
reserve liquidity of his circle. He becomes violently ill and complains to
the friend who sold him them. " 'Ere, Bill", says the friend "them ain't
sardines for eating, them's sardines for buying and selling!"

Sometimes the discussion sounds like them ain't constructs for construing
with .. if you see what I mean. As a keen but fringe PCP-er, who is
inclined to regard PCP as a kind of radical behaviourism and see its
usefulness as a means of tackling my main concerns, I couldn't agree more
with John's sentiments. I was also mildly entertained by his closing
metaphor, viz.,

>PCP is a large tent.

Yes, indeed, and large tents are sometimes what revival meetings are held
in. Which means that I couldn't resist Bob Green's

>Some lateral thinking: For some reason I was wondering whether
>anyone has done research into construing amongst members of
>communities where individual differences are discouraged. The
>types of communities I was thinking of were closed religious
>groups or indigenous tribal groups. In Kellian terms diversity
>in construing the world would still be possible within such

Oh come all ye reflexives and reflect!

To take Bob more seriously, I'm not so sure that diversity of construing
would in fact be "possible", in social terms at least. I imagine that such
a community would be characterised by a core construct hierarchies in which
"same - different" was high in the hierarchy and essentially pre-emptive.
"Same - different" is encoded or expressed in a variety of real-world ways
such as "circumcised - uncircumcised", (various religions & cultures),
"saved - damned" (heavily Presbyterian - see James Hogg's "Confessions of a
Justifed Sinner" for a chilling, if fictitious, example), "Human Being - ?"
(Ancient Egypt, Cheyenne Indian - thought, do such communities bother to
explicate an implicit pole?), "tattooed - not tattooed" etc. In cases such
as circumcision and tattooing the aim of the process is presumably to
simplify construing for the in-group. In heavily sexist male in-groups the
out-group is very easily, rapidly, and pre-emptively, construed, of course.

I imagine that the sociality corollary runs red-hot in such groups and it
would be very interesting to use exchange grid techniques in one.
Hypothesis - very high levels of matching all round. Divergent construing
would be readily detected, hence my hunch about low "possibility".

There must be a mass of anthropological material out there that would help
puruse this further.

Finally, I enjoyed the Barcelona Congress no end. Some great stuff, really
thought-provoking breakfast chat and hardly any evangelism.


Bill Ramsay,
Senior Lecturer in Educational Studies,
University of Strathclyde,
Faculty of Education,
G13 1PP,

'phone: 0141-950 3364
fax: 0141-950 3367