Phenomenology and Critical Social Psychology: Directions and Debates in Theory and Research



There has been significant growth in critical approaches to social psychology in recent years. Phenomenological, discursive and psychoanalytically informed perspectives, amongst others, have become increasingly popular alternatives to ‘mainstream’ cognitive social psychology. This paper describes the fundamental philosophy and methodology underpinning phenomenological psychology along with discussion of a number of key issues in qualitative research in social psychology. In particular, I discuss the role of interpretation, the turn to language and need for political engagement within critical social psychology. More recently, there has been a growth in phenomenologically informed narrative theories and methodologies and in this paper I introduce my own development of a critical narrative analysis. In the process I discuss some of the most pressing debates about research within the phenomenological tradition and provide rebuttals, solutions and possible future directions for phenomenological theory and research that may lead to yet greater recognition for this social psychological perspective.