This wide-ranging study makes an important contribution to the current debate about both teaching methods and the structure of education. It is essential reading for educationalists and developmental psychologists and has a clear practical relevance to teachers and teacher trainers.
The central project of this multidisciplinary volume is a wholesale reappraisal of psychological concepts of human action, mental states, language and social interactions. Derek Edwards reviews a wide range of thought and research to demonstrate how the dominant cognitive approach to psychology has failed. He makes a compelling case for language to be best understood as a kind of activity, as discourse.
The argument draws upon ethnomethodology, conversation analysis, linguistic philosophy and social studies of science. These influences underpin a fascinating intellectual survey ranging across cognitivism, discursive psychology, shared knowledge, categories and metaphor, emotion and narrative. The emphasis throughout is on the value of close empirical study of text and talk, through which the topics of mind, world and `who we are' are seen as `ways of talking'.
The implications of a discursive perspective for such topics are explored alongside a sustained argument against the perceptual-cognitivist emphasis that currently dominates psychology. A particular theme is the reconceptualization of memory and attribution. The authors examine the communicative and interactional work performed when individuals, with interests, describe and explain past events, construct factual reports and attribute mental states. They draw on a wide range of empirical materials to demonstrate the methods and analysis underpinning their approach.
Reframing fundamental issues of language and mind as social practices realized in discourse, Discursive Psychology offers a profound challenge to existing orthodoxies while also establishing an exciting new agenda in the social and human sciences.