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Discursive Psychology

This accessible text introduces the key elements of a discursive approach to psychology. This focuses on how discourse - naturally occurring talk and text - can be studied and understood as the accomplishment of social action. Building on discourse analysis, the authors present an integrated discursive action model which leads to a radical reworking of some of psychology's most central concepts - language, cognition, truth, knowledge and reality. The implications of a discursive perspective for such topics are explored alongside a sustained argument against the perceptual-cognitivist emphasis that currently dominates psychology. A particular theme is the reconceptualization of memory and attribution. The authors examine the communicative and interactional work performed when individuals, with interests, describe and explain past events, construct factual reports and attribute mental states. They draw on a wide range of empirical materials to demonstrate the methods and analysis underpinning their approach.Reframing fundamental issues of language and mind as social practices realized in discourse, Discursive Psychology offers a profound challenge to existing orthodoxies while also establishing an exciting new agenda in the social and human sciences.
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Table of Contents

Introduction The Social and the Cognitive Ulric Neisser's Memory Chancellor Lawson's Memory Texts, Descriptions and Inferences Description as Attribution World-Making and Self-Making Discursive Psychology

About the Author

Derek Edwards is Reader in Discursive Psychology in the Department of Social Sciences, Loughborough University. He is co-author (with Neil Mercer) of Common Knowledge, (with Jonathan Potter) of Discursive Psychology and (with others) of Ideological Dilemmas. Jonathan Potter is Professor of Discourse Analysis and Dean of the School of Social, Political and Geographical Sciences at Loughborough University. He has studied topics such as scientific argumentation, current affairs television, riots, racism, relationship counselling and child protection helplines. His main focus recently has been on the study of helpline interaction, on interaction during family mealtimes, on the conceptualization of cognition in interaction research, and on issues of psychology and institutions. He a world authority on qualitative methods and has written on discourse analysis and discursive psychology, focus groups, the study of psychological issues. Recently has raised questions about the over-reliance of social scientists on open-ended qualitative interviews. He has taught workshops and short courses on analysis in 10 different countries.


`Edwards and Potter present some fine analyses of people's everyday discursive work of remembering and of the attribution of motives, by which a powerful critique of laboratory studies of memory and attribution is provided... the book offers attractive examples of discourse analysis' - Discourse & Society `In this study, Edwards and Potter make a systematic attempt to make clear the nature, scope and methods of discursive psychology, the (final?) descendant of the revolution against na[um]ive empiricism and positivist metaphysics of the behaviourist tradition... It is evident from the publication of this and other first-class offerings from the Loughborough "stable" that our hopes for a truly scientific psychology now have some chance of being fulfilled' - Rom Harr[ac]e, British Journal of Psychology `This book is a persuasive account of the insights that discourse analysis can provide, and the benefits of the discursive approach. It is well written and researched. The discussion of other psychological, sociological and linguistic perspectives, and the discursive analyses of memories and attributions, should provoke the interest of a wide range of social scientists... [It] makes a significant contribution to the promotion of this important approach' - Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology

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