Second nature


Correspondence should be addressed to Dr Tim Corcoran, Department of Educational Studies, School of Education, University of Sheffield, Sheffield S10 2JA, UK (e-mail:


Are ontological meanings somehow sacrosanct in arguments concerning psychology – particularly those scored by discursive accounts of human being? Or is the purposeful deferment of ontological concerns in discursive psychology (DP) another instance of method-fetishism (Koch, 1981)? Shotter's (1995) understanding of joint action and Chouliaraki's (2002) critical realist account of social action combine to support an alternate position to the predominant discursive psychological approach informed by epistemological constructionism (DPEC). The DPEC position is here contrasted with a discursive psychological approach informed by ontological constructionism (DPOC). Via this distinction, a path for future discursive psychological studies is charted, one which values understanding the kinds of practical-moral knowledges (Shotter, 1993) available to people in accounting for themselves and their actions as psychosocial agents. Contrary to claims that the DPEC/DPOC distinction is supercilious (Edley, 2001) or oxymoronic (Drewery, 2000), the importance of debating what ontology can mean for psychology is herein seen as central to the pursuit of personal, relational and collective wellness in contemporary life.