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October 2021

Derrida and psychology: Deconstruction and its ab/uses in critical and discursive psychologies

Journal/Book: Theor Psychol. 1999; 9: 2455 Teller Rd, Thousand Oaks, CA 91320, USA. Sage Publications Inc. 639-665.

Abstract: This paper assesses the role of deconstruction as an important orientation for critical and discursive psychologists. In order to understand what deconstruction involves, key aspects of Jacques Derrida's work are highlighted and explained, notably 'undecidables' such as the trace, the supplement, differance. The ways in which undecidability can be incorporated into, and used to develop, critical and discursive work are explored. Previous attempts at incorporating deconstruction within critical psychology texts are examined, and it is suggested that the more radically anti-foundationalist features of a Derridean deconstruction are typically by-passed in this literature. It is argued that deconstruction in this broader sense offers political as well as critical possibilities. It is suggested that deconstruction provides a radical orientation to language and meaning, and a resource for showing us how identities and realities can be constituted in order to be recognizable as not constituted. It is concluded that deconstruction is important for the development of both critical and discursive psychology, allowing as it does a more profound reflection on both the supplementary character of psychological phenomena, and the processes of marginalization and exclusion which have put these subversive psychologies into play.

Note: Article Hepburn A, Staffordshire Univ, Psychol Div, Coll Rd, Stoke On Trent ST4 2DE, Staffs, ENGLAND

Keyword(s): critical psychology; deconstruction; Derrida; discursive psychology; post-structuralism; POLITICS

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