Performing the Self: Performativity and Discursive Psychology

Item Type Book Section

Butler’s notion of performativity has been incredibly useful for Discursive Psychology, sharpening its theoretical underpinnings and contributing to a social theory that connects the individual with the social. In turn, Discursive Psychology has also had something to offer to this strand of feminist theory which has been seen as notoriously difficult to apply. Discursive Psychology’s firm grounding in empirical approaches and social science methodology provides useful analytical concepts for the empirical analysis of selfhood in concrete, everyday social situations.
We outline Butler’s theory of performativity at the beginning of this chapter. We then provide an overview of how the critique of an essential self that is so central to Butlerian theory played out within psychology. In the process, we sketch out the major trajectories that led to psychology’s ‘discursive turn’ and then explore how the notion of the self was developed in consequence.
Thereafter, we describe some key concepts in Discursive Psychology related to the empirical analysis of self-making and provide two illustrations. We utilize two recent studies of heterosexual parenthood to show how Discursive Psychology concepts can be used to ground performativity theory in empirical work. We close with a discussion of some recent struggles and ongoing debates in this trajectory of work, and point out some important avenues for future theoretical and empirical work. We trust that this chapter will prove useful in providing an overview of developments regarding one important theoretical avenue of theorizing the self, and in offering a point of departure for further dialogue on this topic.

Authors Nentwich, Julia & Morison, Tracy
Editors Travis, Cheryl B. & White, Jacquelyn W.
Research Team Alexandria LinkPublikationen, Alexandria Link Publikationen
Language English
Subjects social sciences
HSG Classification contribution to scientific community
HSG Profile Area None
Date 2018
Publisher American Psychological Association (APA)
Place of Publication Washington D.C., USA
Series Name APA Handbooks in Psychology (Association of American Publishers Prose Award 2019 for Professional and Scholarly Excellence in the category of multi-volume reference works in the social sciences)
Volume Volume 1
Page Range 209-228
Number of Pages 19
Title of Book The APA Handbook of the Psychology of Women
ISBN 9781433827921
Depositing User Prof. Dr. Julia Nentwich
Date Deposited 06 Dec 2016 16:09
Last Modified 04 Mar 2019 09:35


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Nentwich, Julia & Morison, Tracy: Performing the Self: Performativity and Discursive Psychology. In Travis, Cheryl B. & White, Jacquelyn W. (ed.): The APA Handbook of the Psychology of Women. Washington D.C., USA : American Psychological Association (APA), 2018, S. 209-228.

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