Friday Symposia: Bo Allesøe - On Positioning theory

In keeping with the ancient Greek idea of a symposia, we will once a month read and discuss a classical or neo-classical text of relevance to the research areas in our department. This Friday on Positioning theory.


25.09.2020 kl. 14.30 - 16.30


Davies, B., Harré, R (1990) Positioning: The Discursive Production of Selves. Journal of the Theory of Social Behaviour 20(1): 43-63


The idea for this paper emerged out of a discussion about the problems inherent in the use of the concept of role in developing a social psychology of selfhood. We explore the idea that the concept of ‘positioning’ can be used to facilitate the thinking of linguistically oriented social analysts in ways that the use of the concept of ‘role’ prevented. In particular the new concept helps focus attention on dynamic aspects of encounters in contrast to the way in which the use of ‘role’ serves to highlight static, formal and ritualistic aspects. The view of language in which positioning is to be understood is the immanentist view expounded by Harris (1982), in which language exists only as concrete occasions of language in use. La langue is an intellectualizing myth - only la parole is psychologically and socially real. This position is developed in contrast to the linguistic tradition in which ‘syntax’, ‘semantics’ and ‘pragmatics’ are used in a way that implies an abstract realm of causally potent entities shaping actual speech. In our analysis and our explanation, we invoke concepts such as ‘speech act’, ‘indexicality’ and ‘context’, that is the concepts central to ethogenic or new paradigm psychology (Harré, 1979; Harré and Secord, 1973; Davies, 1982). Feminist poststructuralist theory has interesting parallels with this position. The recognition of the force of ‘discursive practices’, the ways in which people are ‘positioned’ through those practices and the way in which the individual’s ‘subjectivity’ is generated through the learning and use of certain discursive practices are commensurate with the ‘new psychosocio-linguistics’ (Davies, 1989; Henriques et al., 1984; Potter and Wetherall,

1988; Weedon, 1987).

Introduced by Bo Allesøe


Centre for Cultural Psychology


Nordkraft room 11.15