More PCP and Discourse

Mr. Jonathan (
Thu, 12 Oct 1995 10:20:40 +0100

>Jock- I would be interested in anything you have written on the
>PCP/discourse connection; I too am interested in putting them
>together in some way. What is your particular interest in the link?
>Viv Burr
>School of Human and Health Sciences
>The University of Huddersfield Voice: (0484) 422288 ext 2454
>Queensgate Fax: (0484) 472794
>Huddersfield HD1 3DH (UK) Email:

My interest in the PCP-discourse link stems from two sources. First,
concerns about gender, and second, exposing myself as a psychology
undergraduate some years ago to as much interdisciplinary thought as I could
get away with.

What I was particularly drawn to was contemporary social theory,
particularly in the Foucauldian guise, which I saw as working towards
dissolving the artificial and vitiating individual-society distinction. (Its
interesting to see the sensitivities of thie dichotomy remerge in the debate
between what is or isn't ackowledged by personal construct scientists about
socially shared constructions). The joint concept of Discourse-Subjectivity
is unifying in a way that Society-Individual is not.

So the discourse push, such as it has been taken up to analyse psychological
events, seems to me to be a useful way of accounting for robust social
phenomena (such as the socially structuring effects of gender) in ways that
can remain sensitive to individual constructions.

The problem has been that most discourse approaches in a psychology context
(such as presented by Hollway, or Parker) have fallen back on psychoanalytic
concepts at some point to provide the glue between subjectivity and
discourse. I suspect this reflects a bizarre fascination with
psychoanalysis (particularly of the Lacanian variety) in postmodern social
theory, more than its theoretical usefulness. For in fact what PCP shares
with discursive approaches is an emphasis on the contingent and constructed
nature of reality. They are much more compatible, and potentially just
different levels of explanation or expressions of the same processes.

And I have been exploring from there. I have some papers on this - a
general stab at connecting them, and an application to the psychology of gender.