Discursive and psychosocial? Theorising a complex contemporary subject

Taylor, Stephanie (2015). Discursive and psychosocial? Theorising a complex contemporary subject. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 12(1) pp. 8–21.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/14780887.2014.958340


This article outlines one tradition of qualitative research in social psychology, that of discourse analysis and discursive research. It proposes that the tradition offers an alternative conceptualisation of a psychosocial subject to accounts which draw on psychoanalytic theorising. The article reviews some of the problems around conceptualising a subject in discursive terms, then sets out some resolutions. It outlines a narrative-discursive approach to subjectivity and proposes that this is consistent with a psychosocial project to explore the person as inseparable from their social contexts. The narrative-discursive conceptualisation admits of agency and change, avoiding over-complete accounts of subjectification, while retaining the critical and political focus of the discursive tradition. It is also consistent with sociological theorisations of the subjects of late capitalism and neo-liberalism. The article discusses an example of narrative-discursive analysis from research on identities of residence and relationships to place.

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