Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Dialogism and the Psyche

This is review of an article by Salgado and Clegg, which is called Dialogism and the psyche: Bakhtin and contemporary psychology. The authors in their article argue that Bakhtin offered psychology a way to conceptualize and study human experience so that the notion of psyche is preserved and enriched. Then they discuss the implications of dialogism for theories of the self which focus on six basic principles of dialogical thought: the principles of relationality, dynamism, semiotic mediation, alterity, dialogicality, and contextuality. All together these principles refer to the notion of psyche.
Bakhtin's influence on the social sciences became enormous by the late 1980s. His conception of dialogue has been used directly or indirectly to study a variety of topics, such as memory, symbolic resources, self identity, immigration, multiculturality, etc. His influence also has a lot to do with the possibilities it opens of recovering the notion of psyche. Dialogism transforms the manner that we conceive and investigate psyche in a way that 'self'' becomes a meaningful metaphor in the study of human life. He also insisted on studying language as a lived phenomenon, in opposition of classic concepts by Saussure.  Bakhtin claimed that the proper way to study language and meaning making  was through the language activity. Words that are spoken become utterances and every utterance then is addressed to someone and derives its meaning from the social relation it implies. Thus, language production is always dialogic and that is the core notion of Bakhtinian approach.
One of the few theories of psyche are that self - identity is a matter of socially situating oneself and negotiating with others own identities. The notion of mind is still highly operative in today's cognitive psychology, as it places consciousness at the centre of human subject. Many postmodern theories have begun to question an alternative notion of self, clearly situating self and identity as something produced within history, culture, and society (e.g., social constructionist variety). They claim that meaning is always a matter of linguistic and social negotiation. Self and identity are constructed by cultural and linguistic tools through which we relate with others and by which we render ourselves intelligible. The self or psyche then becomes an extension of social discourse.
Salgado and Clegg distinguish six main principles of dialogical theorizing in psychology:
1. The primacy of relations over entities.
2. Relations are dynamic and developing processes.
3. Human relations are mediated by signs.
4. A relationship implies alterity.
5. Human relationships are dialogical.
6. Dialogical relationships include and depend upon a socio-cultural context.
Dialogism also conceptualizes ongoing experience in terms of the dynamic negotiations that constitute such relations. Bakhtin also has an interesting that whenever we use a word, the word is half given (social heritage) and half created (because we use it in an unrepeatable and personalized way). Thus, a dialogical perspective requires that we consider the socio cultural context in which a dialogical relation is situated. Dialogism also makes a claim that the psyche and its relational, socio cultural context are inseparable. It also forces us to reconceptualize the research practises by which we attempt to illuminate the nature and functions of psyche.
More on this topic can be found here

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