A step too far: Discursive psychology, linguistic ethnography and questions of identity


Address correspondence to:
Margaret Wetherell
Social Sciences
The Open University
Walton Hall
Milton Keynes
United Kingdom


This paper argues that linguistic ethnography needs to include psychology as well as language and culture in the list of objects it studies, and build a dialogue with discursive psychology, which similarly focuses on discourse in contexts of use. Discursive psychology, and its variants, are introduced and, using a fragment of interaction from the U.K. reality television programme ‘Big Brother’ as an illustration, ways of investigating ‘personal order’ through discursive research are explored. It is argued that the investigation of identity and people's investments in particular identity positions should not be impeded by, for instance, conversation analytic methodological prescriptions or the concerns of psycho-social researchers that the study of psychology through the study of language is a step too far.