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Disciplinarity and the application of social research


Correspondence should be addressed to Jonathan Potter, Department of Social Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough, Leicestershire LE11 3TU, UK (e-mail:


This response to Corcoran (2010) and Abell and Walton (2010) is organized around four key issues. (1) Disciplinarity: against a focus on the standard disciplinary boundaries of social psychology, and the conventional qualitative/quantitative division, it highlights metatheoretical, theoretical, and empirical disagreement over the object of analysis. (2) Social cognition: doubts about a suggested overlap between the concerns and methods of social cognition and discursive psychology are outlined. (3) Naturalistic data: the virtues of working with records of people living their lives outside of the narrow situations got up by social researchers are reiterated. (4) Application: the applied success of discursive psychological research is illustrated.