Relational Being: Beyond Self and Community

Oxford University Press
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This book builds on two current developments in psychology scholarship and practice. The first centers on broad discontent with the individualist tradition in which the rational agent, or autonomous self, is considered the fundamental atom of social life. Critique of individualism spring not only from psychologists working in the academy, but also from communities of therapy and counseling. The second, and related development from which this work builds, is the search for alternatives to individualist understanding. Thus, therapists such as Steve Mitchell, along with feminists at the Stone Center, expand the psychoanalytic tradition to include a relational orientation to therapy. The present volume will give voice to the critique of individualism, but its major thrust is to develop and illustrate a far more radical and potentially exciting landscape of relational thought and practice that now exists. Most existing attempts to build a relational foundation remain committed to a residual form of individualist psychology. The present work carves out a space of understanding in which relational process stands prior to the very concept of the individual. More broadly, the book attempts to develop a thoroughgoing relational account of human activity. In doing so, Gergen reconstitutes 'the mind' as a manifestation of relationships and bears out these ideas in a range of everyday professional practices, including family therapy, collaborative classrooms, and organizational psychology.
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About the author

Kenneth J. Gergen graduated from Yale University and received his PhD from Duke University. After teaching at Harvard University, he joined the Swarthmore College faculty as the Chair of the Psychology Department. He remains there as a Senior Research Professor. He is also the President of the Taos Institute. His work has received numerous awards throughout the world.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Oxford University Press
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Published on
Jul 30, 2009
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Pages
448
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ISBN
9780199719402
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Language
English
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Genres
Psychology / Applied Psychology
Psychology / Developmental / Child
Psychology / Interpersonal Relations
Psychology / Psychotherapy / Counseling
Psychology / Social Psychology
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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`An interesting collection of the state of the art of social constructionism and therapy, and a major contribution to reflection on therapeutic theory and practice' - Changes

`The chapters are interesting as windows into wider debates beyond therapy to those within the human sciences over the organization of meaning and change in culture... the value of this book is that it makes it possible for the reader to step back and think that therapy may mean different things to different communities, that therapy is not the touchstone but only one of many social constructions' - British Psychological Society Counselling Psychology Review

This volume explores the exciting possibilities for the therapeutic process of adopting a social constructionist perspective. A key concern is with socially constructed lives. Our senses of self, identity and life purpose are socially and culturally embedded, but no single cultural `script' proves all-powerful. In social constructionist therapy, client and therapist work to co-create new, more satisfactory `stories' in ways which recognise their social, relational character.

The book firstly examines the theoretical basis for this process. It also looks at the implications for client-therapist relationships and discusses various approaches in practice, including `irreverent therapy', the `not-knowing therapist' and the role of reflexivity. A number of case studies are presented. The final section offers an exhilarating mix of overview, self-critique and agenda for the future.

This book builds on two current developments in psychology scholarship and practice. The first centers on broad discontent with the individualist tradition in which the rational agent, or autonomous self, is considered the fundamental atom of social life. Critique of individualism spring not only from psychologists working in the academy, but also from communities of therapy and counseling. The second, and related development from which this work builds, is the search for alternatives to individualist understanding. Thus, therapists such as Steve Mitchell, along with feminists at the Stone Center, expand the psychoanalytic tradition to include a relational orientation to therapy. The present volume will give voice to the critique of individualism, but its major thrust is to develop and illustrate a far more radical and potentially exciting landscape of relational thought and practice that now exists. Most existing attempts to build a relational foundation remain committed to a residual form of individualist psychology. The present work carves out a space of understanding in which relational process stands prior to the very concept of the individual. More broadly, the book attempts to develop a thoroughgoing relational account of human activity. In doing so, Gergen reconstitutes 'the mind' as a manifestation of relationships and bears out these ideas in a range of everyday professional practices, including family therapy, collaborative classrooms, and organizational psychology.
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