Researching Affect and Psychosocial Studies

For those interested in psychosocial approaches to research, this video series I just stumbled across will be of interest. It’s from a seminar series which was jointly organised by people from Cardiff University and City University a few years ago. It aimed to “bring recent interest in affect with older traditions, especially those developed in relation to psychoanalysis, thus bringing different traditions of work into dialogue with each other“. I’ve included a quick snippet of Wendy Hollway below – you can find the full selection of videos here.

I personally find this incorporation of psychoanalytic concepts deeply problematic in terms of both their application outside of clinical settings and the far from clear meta-theoretical criteria upon which this quasi-psychoanalytical toolbox is constructed. But I also find it very interesting and, if I’m correct in my understanding of what motivates it, I’m largely persuaded by the underlying direction of travel i.e. the need to recover the individual as an explanatory variable within social research without construing the subject in a rationalistic and/or self-transparent fashion. I’m just sceptical about the method adopted, effectively amounting to the psychoanalytic reading of a socially situated subject – peering into the inner depths of concrete individuals. It doesn’t solve the underlying problem of how individual and society (agency/structure, micro/macro, subjectivity/objectivity etc) are interconnected – instead it just ‘drills down’ into one side of the dichotomy.

It seems obvious to me that there are, so to speak, things ‘between’ the psychic and the social – I’m very interested to read any psychosocial writing that explores the stratification of the self at an ontological level if any readers can offer suggestions. Such distinctions clearly seem to be circulating within this body of work but from the relatively small amount I’ve read thus far, it’s hard to get a handle on precisely what they are. I don’t want to sound unduly critical: I’m really interested in this stuff and my familiarity with it thus far comes more from hearing people talk than actually reading the literature in any serious and ongoing way.

4 thoughts on “Researching Affect and Psychosocial Studies

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