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Psychosocial Methodologies: Politicising Research with Narrative and Free Association

1st July 2019 @ 10:00 am - 3rd July 2019 @ 4:00 pm

A course for psychosocial researchers taking place at UCL Institute of Education and supported by the Association for Psychosocial Studies and the University of Birmingham


Course tutors:  Claudia Lapping, Ian McGimpsey, Felipe Acuna, Mohamed Elshirazy

Dates: Mon 1st, Tues 2nd and Weds 3rd July, 10 am – 4pm

Location: UCL Room: B06 Drayton House, 30 Gordon Street, WC1H 0QB


UCL students – as usual

Non UCL students: Please contact Claudia Lapping: c.lapping@ucl.ac.uk


Overview: Whenever we are teaching or discussing psychosocial approaches to the analysis of data, we come up against a question: how does a psychoanalytically informed approach differ from narrative analysis or discourse analysis? In this course we want to address this question very directly. We will do this through a combination of theoretical and practical exercises to explore the production and analysis of instances of narrative and/or free association. We will discuss:

  • The meanings of ‘narrative’ and ‘free association’ within a variety of literary, qualitative research and psychoanalytic frameworks, and in popular culture
  • Contrasting approaches we might use in identifying or producing ‘narratives’ or ‘free associations’ in the process of research
  • And the way conceptualisations of ‘narrative’ and ‘free association’ might have implications for the analysis of research data

Some key axes of difference include the ways in which different approaches think about language, subjectivity, the unconscious and the possibility of understanding or (mis)recognition between researcher and researched.

Why is this important? We believe these issues are central to the politics of research, and to the relation between politics and trauma. We have a hunch that narrative and free associative approaches pull in slightly different directions in relation to both the production of subjectivity and the formulation of political strategy and tactics in the field of social research.

Background reading:

Bollas, C. 1999, ‘Wording and Telling Sexuality’, pp. 158 – 166, in The Mystery of Things, Routledge

Butler, J. 2005, Giving an Account of Oneself, Fordham University Press

De Certeau, M. 1988, ‘Walking in the City’ pp. 91-110 of The Practice of Everyday Life, University of California Press

Fink, B. 2007, ‘Working with Dreams, Daydreams and Fantasies’, pp. 101-125 in Fundamentals of psychoanalytic technique: A Lacanian approach for practitioners, W. W. Norton and Company

Freud, S. 1958, The Interpretation of Dreams, London: Penguin Books (See esp.: Chapter V1 ‘The Dream-Work’ pp. 381-2, ‘The Work of Condensation’,pp. 283 – 411, and ‘The Work of Displacement’ pp. 415-9.)

McQuillan, M, 2000 (ed.), The Narrative Reader, Routledge

Zizek, S. 1989, The Sublime Object of Ideology, Verso


1st July 2019 @ 10:00 am
3rd July 2019 @ 4:00 pm
Event Category:


Association for Psychosocial Studies