Researching the Psychosocial: An Introduction

Taylor, Stephanie and McAvoy, Jean (2015). Researching the Psychosocial: An Introduction. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 12(1) pp. 1–7.



This special issue explores key issues relevant to psychosocial research and presents innovative qualitative approaches for investigating this emerging field. The term ‘psychosocial’ is increasingly widely used and has become associated with its own ‘turn’ in social theorising and research. Such a turn would be consistent with a now-well established trajectory of academic innovation. It implies a Kuhnian leap and a major re-framing through which deficiencies and absences in current theory and research are recognised then remedied, opening up new directions and problems for investigation, as occurred in psychology with the ‘discursive turn’ of the 1980s and 90s. However, the status of a psychosocial turn is less clear-cut, first because of the very broad reference of the term ‘psychosocial’, second, because of the apparent overlap with the project of social psychology, and third, because of the odd relation of the psychosocial to psychology more generally, including the rejection of its main traditions of qualitative research. This introduction expands on these points and introduces the five central articles in this special issue, each of which contributes a particular resolution to the challenges of the new turn, and the commentaries in which two senior critical and social psychologists, Ian Parker and Margaret Wetherell, reflect on future directions for psychosocial research.

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