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Social Psychology from Flat to Round: Intersubjectivity and Space in Peter Sloterdijk's Bubbles



In this paper I describe the relevance of philosopher Peter Sloterdijk's (1998/2011) book Bubbles for social psychology. Bubbles offers the opportunity for the development of what I call a round social psychology. This is in contrast to the flatness characteristic of some of the more influential contemporary varieties of social psychology. Flat social psychology stays close to the ground, and is focused on the coordination of action. Round social psychology describes the atmosphere that surrounds and makes interaction possible in the first place. It requires a theory that links intersubjectivity with spatiality. To describe flat social psychology I analyze the assumptions of three contemporary versions of social psychology: social cognition theory, Goffman's dramaturgy, and Gergen's relational psychology. I then describe in greater detail Sloterdijk's bubble philosophy and the characteristics of round social psychology.