Psychoanalysis as epistemology: Psycho-social methods since Doing Qualitative Research Differently

Event Date: 22 November 2012
Room B04,  Birkbeck Main Building
Birkbeck, University of London
Malet Street
London WC1E 7HX

The Birkeck Institute for Social Research presents:

Psychoanalysis as epistemology: Psycho-social methods since ‘Doing Qualitative Research Differently’

This is the first in the seminar series: Doing Critical Social Research

Speaker: Professor Wendy Hollway (Emeritus Professor of Psychology, Open University)

The second edition of ‘Doing Qualitative Research Differently: Free Association, Narrative and the Interview method’(2012) recently provided the authors (Hollway and Jefferson) with an opportunity to review the developments in the field of empirical (qualitative) psycho-social research since its original publication in 2000. Two intervening events had provided debate in the psycho-social community: the 2008 special issue, ‘British Psycho(-)social Studies’ in Psychoanalysis, Culture and Society, and a conference session in 2010at the bi-annual British ESRC Methods Festival for researchers across the social sciences, which organised a session called ‘Reassessing Hollway and Jefferson’s Doing Qualitatively Research Differently, Ten Years On’.  In addition, a steady stream of publications in qualitative research journals demonstrated how the FANI method had been taken up and modified to suit new circumstances. Moreover my own project on the identity changes involved in becoming a mother for the first time, in which psychoanalytic ‘infant’ observation was used alongside the FANI method, required a term with a new breadth: psychoanalytically informed methods. It is not surprising, perhaps, that researchers and professionals involved in some way with psychotherapeutic practices (health and social care workers, psychologists, psychotherapists and counsellors) have shown considerable interest in methods that are consistent in their epistemology with the methods they are trained in as practitioners.

In this talk, I shall be discussing highlights from ten years of methodological development in what is largely British psycho-social research:

  • the defended subject;
  • interpretation;
  • ethics, compassion and power relations;
  • reflexivity (especially the importance of reflecting on emotional responses as the basis for a psychoanalytic epistemology and the use of other minds to help reflection).

Introduction by Professor Sasha Roseneil (Birkbeck).

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