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Social Psychology and the Empirical Body: Rethinking the Relationship



Although social science work on the body has demonstrated its thorough socialisation, social psychology has barely recognised the mutual interdependence of the physical body and the social world. Accordingly, we propose that social psychology might be enriched and extended by detailed investigation of changes in the activity of the empirical body alongside processes of meaning-making during social interaction. We illustrate our proposal with a case study of changes in blood pressure during conversation, explored in conjunction with analyses using four discursive frames: gaining voice, identity negotiation, joint action/knowing of the third kind and positioning theory. We argue that this approach challenges the artificial separation of social psychology from other sub-disciplines, might inform social psychological analyses of emotion and belief and allows it to address substantive topics, such as psychopathology, which it typically largely excludes.