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Offending the other: Deconstructing narratives of deviance and pathology


Correspondence should be addressed to Dr Darren Langdridge, Faculty of Social Sciences, The Open University, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA, UK (e-mail:


Narratives of homophobia and the repathologization of gay men now emerge and coalesce in often unconsidered ways. Within this paper, we present a deconstructive analysis of a recent paper published within the British Journal of Social Psychology (Crossley, 2004) and highlight how a narrative of repathology emerges through the selective appropriation of particular textual sources. By employing pathological constructions of sexual conduct between men; focusing upon singular homogenized constructions of gay men and simplistic constructions of health promotion and through a process of reconstructing HIV as a gay plague and it is possible to embroider a moral tale which constitutes a further deviant ‘othering’ of gay men. We contend that by employing (functional) discourses of ‘unconscious motivation’, together with a constellation of disclaimers, caveats and tokenistic pluralization, it becomes possible for psychologists to engage in homophobic knowledge production whilst maintaining an identity as a (dis)interested professional. Our analysis raises issues pertinent to all social psychologists engaged in ‘suspicious’ research on ‘the other’. To this end, we expand our critique by employing ideas from Ricoeur's hermeneutic phenomenology to provide more general discussion of ethical and constructive ways of engaging in textual analyses of persons outside one's own tradition.