Discursive and scientific psychology


Derek Edwards, School of Social, Political and Geographical Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough, Leicestershire LE11 3TU, UK (e-mail: D.Edwards@lboro.ac.uk).


I begin with the origins of Loughborough University's Discourse and Rhetoric Group (DARG), and in particular discursive psychology (DP). Rather than attempting to summarize DP, versions of which are plentiful, the article attempts to clarify various relationships and tensions between DP and other kinds of social psychology, particularly experimental. Common sense psychology is defined as DP's topic rather than rival; the aim is to study how people deploy everyday psychological notions and manage psychological business within talk and text, and what they accomplish by such deployments, rather than trying, as experimental psychology is often characterized as doing, to replace it all with something purportedly better. Claims for DP being particularly interpretative rather than scientific are rejected, by appeal to an ‘interpretative gap’ between phenomena, data, analysis, and conclusions that all research must manage, that gap being often much larger in quantitative and experimental work. The importance of pursuing causal explanations of psychological phenomena is questioned, and the importance asserted, of discovering, through rigorous empirical and conceptual analysis, the normative bases of human conduct and accountability.