Wednesday, 23 June 2010

discounting psychoanalytic insights?

I've already suggested that my preferred theoretical frame for my research is rooted in social psychology, and more specifically, symbolic interactionism (see below). However, I was making notes from Brid Featherstone's good book, "Contemporary Fatherhood: theory policy and practice" for some teaching next semester, and was given cause to think (goodness...what next?). The impression I got was that social constructivist theories such as those I find useful - are based on the premise that concepts or practices are the product of communities or groups - they focus on modeling of identity or behaviour; but that psychoanalytic theory questions the simplicity of this, offering a closer look at the 'inner world'?

Hmm. Where does this leave me? Does this insight prompt further study and perhaps even suggest a necessary adaptation to my preferred theoretical frame? Does social psychology need the insight psychoanalytic theory promises? ...and most importantly, isn't psychoanalysis (as I tend to think at the moment) a load of old twaddle? Ha!

Rebbecca C. Curtis edited a book in 1991 titled "The relational self: theoretical convergences in psychoanalysis and social psychology". My casual flick through the book suggests the two disciplines have shared some questions, and that social psychology has indeed begun, since the publication of Duval and Wickland's 1972 "A theory of objective self awareness" to address the issue of the 'self'. So, it's not an either / or?. Well, early sections suggest social psychology fails to take account of the ways in which we organise our 'selves' and how factors such as anxiety affects our functions. This seems to be worth one of those mental notes for future reading, one which will serve as a critical question over the literature I'll take a look at. I suspect at this stage introducing some critical filter to my early reading will be helpful, even if I find that social psychology and symbolic interactionism has either addressed these questions about the inner dynamics of the self or has a rationale for not bothering with them.

I better get that book, or it'll haunt me - I don't want to build an approach to research which is based on a simplistic premise. Don't get me wrong, no single perspectives will cover all the angles, but I'd like to arrive at a theoretical frame that 'does the job'. 

Now that's got me thinking - I need to define what job it has to do: what insight do I need? Damn; is this what this PhD is going to be like?