Re: Classical romance

Trevor Butt (
15 Feb 1996 9:31:01 +0000

Some thoughts on Jim Mancuso's message.

It seems to me that yes, the personas we produce in different
contexts are limited by our personal constructions. We have
histories and narratives about ourselves that we weave into a core
that gives us a centre of gravity in interaction.

But also we can surprise ourselves with what we come up with, didn't
know we had it in us, so to speak. I like the symbolic
interactionist idea of 'joint action', where what is produced
socially can't necessarily be traced back to individual intentions.
This might occasion guilt, and fragmentation that we struggle to
accommodate to in terms of our core structure. It might also lead
to self-elaboration that proves useful for us. (In a recent game of
tennis, I found to my surprise that I could do a good overhead
smash!)Isn't it in this way that psychological change and
reconstruction comes about, as in Fixed Role therapy? You do have
to build on something, but this includes our construing in action.

My objection to what I think of as cognitive accounts is that it
looks as though everything comes from inside us, and behaviour
issues from 'constructs' or cognitions. Clearly not everything we do
is deliberated on. Often,we might spell out to ourselves what we
have done after the event in order to make sense of it. Somehow
behaviour and cognition go hand-in-hand.

I agree that the problem with constructionism is that the
individual disappears altogether; I don't want the person to be
washed away in sociology. But surely the person is penetrated by
social interaction and doesn't live by cognitions alone, however
Trevor Butt
Senior Lecturer in Psychology
School of Human & Health Sciences
The University of Huddersfield Fax: (0484) 472794
Queensgate Voice: (0484) 422288 ext 2455
Huddersfield HD1 3DH (UK) Email: