4th International Conference on the Dialogical Self (icds-4) University of Minho, Braga, Portugal



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17h15 – 18h15

Keynote Speaker
Peter L. Callero (Western Oregon University, USA)

The dialogical self in sociological context
Dominant conceptual approaches to the self within psychology tend to focus on stability, unity and conformity. This stance reflects a tendency to view the self as a vessel for storing particulars of the person while at the same time using self characteristics as predictors of individual behavior. A dialogical approach to the self, in contrast, offers a more dynamic and contextualized model of personhood open to the incorporation of key sociological principles. In this paper, the sociological context of the self and identity is explored. How does institutional power, shifting state boundaries, corporate media and globalization affect the self? These questions cannot be ignored if we are to achieve a more thorough understanding of the modern self.
Saturday, June 3rd, 2006
9h00 – 10h00

Keynote Speaker
Shinobu Kitayama (University of Michigan, USA)

Self as modus operandi: Implications for well-being and health
Different cultures emphasize remarkably different views or public narratives about the self. In particular, in North America the self is constructed largely as an independent, goal-directed agent that seeks to influence the social surrounding, whereas in Asia it is constructed as an interdependent, socially responsive agent that seeks to fit-in and adjusts itself to the social surrounding. Findings from a large-scale cross-cultural survey and a series of cross-cultural experiments are reviewed to show that these views of the self are reflected in lay conceptions of agency, embodied in each person’s cognitive, emotional, and motivational propensities and, as a consequence, they are likely entail important consequences on health and wellbeing. Furthermore, recent work has begun to shed some new light on origins of this cross-cultural variation by examining, in detail, regional differences and similarities as well as those as a function of social class. Altogether the present research program suggests that the cultural self is both dialogically constructed and fully embodied and, as such, can best be seen as mode of being.

10h15 – 11h45

Symposium 10
Communication, emotions and self construction

Angela Uchoa Branco (University of Brasilia, Brazil) & Jaan Valsiner (Clark University, USA)


Discussant: Amrei Joerchel (University of Vienna, Austria)
The idea of discussing the processes involved in self-construction from different theoretical perspectives that take into account DS theory will provide an excellent opportunity to the production of new ideas and conceptual-theoretical elaborations concerning the issue. The speakers agree on the importance of affect and communication, and will contribute with different experiences and academic frameworks. Dr. Salvatore will discuss the role of affective symbolization in dialogical self-construction processes, arguing for the contribution of the interpersonal psychoanalytic theory in underlining the role of an unconscious dimension in meaning-making processes. Dr. Fiore and Dr. Dimaggio will address the dialogues between voices in group therapy contexts, as Personality Disorders patients interact with each other, and will stress the exchange of roles, emotions and reciprocal embodiment of the voices that can be identified in patients’ narratives. Dr. Barbato will analyze dialogical processes involving historical and cultural multivoicedness in life narratives and memory, presenting data concerning a male worker who participated of a historical event in Brazil. Dr. Branco will elaborate on the centrality of cultural practices, values, emotions and metacommunication for the co-constructive processes of DS along ontogeny.

The role of affective symbolization in the dialogical self's construction processes

Sergio Salvatore (University of Lecce, Italy)


Relationships between people can be seen as a dialogue that produces meaning; meanings used by the participants as a base to regulate their relationship. Within this general socio-constructivist conception, the fundamental contribution of the interpersonal psychoanalytic theory is to underline that meaning-making processes have an unconscious dimension, which relates in a bi-directional and recursive way with semantic-narrative sense-making processes. A redefinition in semiotic terms of the notion of the unconscious is implicit, and the unconscious is conceived as a peculiar and autonomous modality of signification. Parallel to the negotiation of meanings, the actors elaborate a shared interpretation of their intersubjective field. At first, such interpretation unfolds in terms of affective semiosis, which is according to the logic of the unconscious. The shared unconscious interpretation works as a context that is as a discursive frame that directs the hermeneutic practices of the locutors, marking as preferential some interpretative principles compared to others. Thinking and communicating are operations that always work according to the context. It is by referring to the context that the locutors’ version of the mind is defined.

Dialogues between voices in a group therapy with patients suffering of Personality Disorders

Donatella Fiore & Giancarlo Dimaggio (Third Center for Cognitive Psychotherapy, Italy)


In many authors’ opinion, the self is made up of numerous different voices – some of them seen as self and others belonging to the self’s external domain – which can temporarily take over control of experience. These interact with each other in an ongoing dialogue. It has recently been suggested that patients with Personality Disorders have an impaired ability to recognize and integrate in coherent narratives the different voices. We propose that group therapy may help these patients to access some of their voices and build a metaposition allowing the creation of bridges between them. In this work we look at some videotaped and transcribed group therapy sessions excerpts with patients suffering of Personality Disorders. We describe: the voices present inside the narratives and the way in which role plying, through exchange of roles and emotions and reciprocal embodiment of the characters present in patient’s narratives, may encourage the patients to acquire better self-reflection and awareness of their emotion and of the dialogical relationships among them. We also look at the therapist’s actions aimed at facilitating this process.

Dialogical self in narratives: Historical multivoicedness, cultural multivoicedness

Silviane Barbato (University of Brasilia, Brazil)



Dialogicality is semiotically built as polyphonic meanings are embedded throughout generations and signification is affected by the work of values in socio-historical interactions. In this session I would like to contribute to the discussion on how Dialogicality is built by focusing on data of a seven-hours oral history interview with Damião — one of the first construction workers who migrated to build the city of Brasilia. If the self is construed by meanings that are mobilized in contexts of situation, we may understand its dynamics in life history analyzing the polyphony emerging from different I-positions uttered while the teller moves through time in his narrative interwoven by landmarks settings, points of mutation and interpretations. Life history signification is construed along the process of communication, and sense results from a flexible, complex and multivoiced game in which relevance plays a fundamental role. Such relevance may be built through the values Damião acquired throughout his own life history, together with the history of the city he helped to build, as he remembers in the present seeking to capture and interpret his past.
Culture, values, emotions, and self-construction

Angela Uchoa Branco (University of Brasilia, Brazil)


Integrating sociocultural and constructivist perspectives, we assume the complexities of the interactions of multiple I-positions along ontogeny, and argue for the fundamental role played self construction processes by motivation, here conceived as a dynamic system that encompasses goal and belief orientations, and values—here understood as non-verbal affective fields—all impregnated, in different levels and ways, by emotions. Within the field-like context that characterizes the motivational dimension of the self-system, self-positions organize and re-organize themselves according to a hierarchy that changes in specific ways depending on the characteristics of the cultural contexts, and corresponding sociocultural practices, within which the person is inserted. The intermingled quality of the motivation system, which merges language and emotion at both intentional and non-intentional levels, will be discussed as we highlight the significance of communication and metacommunication processes between the developing individual and relevant aspects of his/her sociocultural context. Data from narrative studies will illustrate the worth of communication, metacommunication and values in studies meant to analyze the dialogical nature of self, and the dialectics between stability and instability of DS along ontogeny.

10h15 – 11h45

Paper 17
Reflecting about reflecting

Chair: David E. Leary (University of Richmond, USA)

Maybe it was meant to happen”: Fate, reflexivity and the dialogical self

Matthew Adams (University of Brighton, UK)


Mainstream social and cultural theory has long claimed that the individual is increasingly provided with the opportunity to construct self-identity without the shackles of tradition and culture, which once limited the options for selfunderstanding and development. This paper claims to the contrary that the culturally situated nature of modern identity is still essential to an understanding of selfhood. Using a range of sources, including popular self-help texts, concepts of fate are used to illustrate the unreflexive relationship between self-identity and culture. It is argued that the dialogical self is a more suitable framework for incorporating the simultaneous existence of reflexivity and fate in contemporary times. However, the example of discourses of fate also suggests a possible direction for the conceptual development of the dialogical self. The linguistic and narrational connotations of self-dialogue may be limiting a more complex understanding of the experiential reality of self-experience. It is argued that processes of ambiguity, disavowal and non-discursiveness indicate a more suitably complex grasp of the dialogical achievement of selfhood.

Reflective versus ruminative internal dialogue on problem solving

Amanda DaSilveira, Mariane DeSouza e William B. Gomes (Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil)


It has been suggested that the more one talks to oneself the more one improves self-consciousness. Yet, some argue this improvement depends on the quality of the internal conversation, whether it is reflective (productive thought) or ruminative (circular thought). Ten participants solved the Raven Progressive Matrices Test by saying out loud what they were thinking of while taking the test. Qualitative analysis of the results pointed to three types of dialogues - figures' description, logical thinking and interactive thought as well as four temporal positions of self - I (present) speak to the Me and You (future), about Myself (past). The distinction between reflection and rumination appeared as a functional relation between dialogue types and the temporal positions of self. In ruminative thought the I-present is not able to complete the dialogue, keeping revolving around it. In reflective thought the I-present moves to the task (myself) in search of a solution, returns to itself enriched by the successful accomplishment or critical performance. Findings are discussed from the perspective of problem solving and dialogical self.

Internal dialogical processes: The multiple forms of inner alterity

J. V. Fernandes, C. Cunha & J. Salgado (ISMAI, Portugal)


Dialogism has brought an ontological shift with several implications for the study of selfhood dynamics. Assuming that human existence is mainly relational, the scientific study of psychological processes detaches itself from some foundational epistemologies that have been constraining the analysis of selfhood. New questions emerge and therefore we may ask what role internal communication of every human being may have within a dialogical approach. Considering some conceptions about the dialogical self, an analysis of internal dialogical processes will be presented in order to shed some light on the multiplicity of dialogues that every human being establishes with himself in several micro-moments that punctuate existence. There will be a concern in establishing a relationship between the internal and external alterity processes. This will be made not only by focusing on a definition of the dialogical self as a triadic system, but also by joining this model with some approaches from the intersubjective field. This will be illustrated by a small case study.

Argue with our selves and think about our thinking: Two sides of the same coin?

Antonia Larraín S. (Catholic University of Chile, Chile)


The nature of the cognitive process of thinking about thinking itself has remained on the dark side of scientific knowledge. Cognitive models using a computer metaphor to understand the human mind are especially limited in this field. However, a dialogical approach to the human mind and cognition allows the development of metacognition models that explain how and why the attentional shift of thought from the world to the epistemic process itself occurs. This is possible because cognition is understood as an ideological process with a dialogical structure. This dialogical, ideological process is also a semiotic one.

In this context, a dialogical model of reflexive thought is proposed. The suggestion is that reflexive thought is a process that is articulated in opposing ideological perspectives or positions, each functioning as a mirror for the other. This reflective movement becomes progressively deeper since ideological positions change and are enriched as they ‘look’ at opposing positions.

Nevertheless, this complex process does not develop out of thin air. There are specific semiotic processes that force attentional shifts (first, from the world to thought, then from one position to another) and make positions "look" at one another. This paper suggests that argumentation, principally self-argumentation, is a discursive process that promotes and regulates this reflective ‘operation’. Specifically, a typology of self-argumentative discourse is developed: each type of discourse reveals different levels of metacognition through different modes.

10h15 – 11h45

Paper 18
Reconfiguring pathologies

Chair: Luis Botella (Ramon Llull University, Spain)



Dialogical integration of traumatic experiences from schizophrenic patients: A comparative analysis of two life narratives

Francisco Javier Saavedra Macías (University of Seville, Spain)

There is a great agreement about the problems that the schizophrenic patients suffer to develop an inner dialogue between different characters and experiences (Lysaker, 2003). On the other hand, some authors suggest that these problems can explain some schizophrenic symptoms and experiences. We have selected and analysed two significant autobiografical interviews from an ongoing study about life-narratives of patients living in boarding houses called “Homes Houses”. The “Homes Houses” belong to public services. A patient has stayed for 4 years in the boarding house and the other only three months and a half. Both of them have committed crimes of different type that they recognize as critical in their lives. The analysis shows that:

-The dialogue between different positions is possible in a patient, even in the most serious case.

- The inner dialogue appears together with the capacity of agency, the richness of “I” positions (Dimaggio et al, 2003) and the lack of dialogue with delusive episodes and a “rigid” narrative form (Lysaker, 2002).

The autistic dialogic style: A case of Asperger syndrome

Vera Regina J. R. M. Fonseca, Lívia M. Simão & Vera Sílvia R. Bussab (University of São Paulo, Brazil)


In a former paper [Fonseca, 2005], one of the authors hypothesized that, in autistic disorders, there would be a distortion in the construction of what she defined as dialogic space. Such a space, in which self and other define each other mutually, would be the final result of early dyadic transactions, characterized by opposing experiences of ongoing regulation and disruptions/repair [Beebe and al, 1997], setting the basis for both the sense of predictability [the so-called “me experiences”, in Winnicottian terminology], and novelty [the “not-me experiences”]. The balance of these transactions [as in the three-component process of Ego-Alter-Object dynamics, Marková, 2003] provide the preconditions for the acceptance of otherness, a crucial difficulty in autistic disorders, whose hallmark is considered by some authors [Tustin, 1981; Houzel, 1997] to be the inability to accept and deal with alterity. In this paper, we propose to illustrate the peculiar way through which such difficulties are made clear in less severe cases of the autistic spectrum, such as in the Asperger syndrome. We will use clinical vignettes of a twelve year-old-boy with an amazing ability to induce sleepiness in the analyst, as a consequence of a dialogic style of forcing agreement inside the dyad, searching exclusively for the already known, as a possible way of eluding the encounter with otherness.

Autobiography as a tool for self construction: A study on psychiatric parents

Andrea Smorti, Valentina Cipriani & Bianca Parenti (University of Florence, Italy)


The main aim of this study was to assess how psychiatric patients modify their autobiographical narration from a first to a second autobiographical interview. 15 adult males, aged between 25 and 40, affected by a psychiatric disorder of first axis of DSM IV, were recruited for the present study. A first autobiographic interview was administered to each participant, taped and transcribed verbatim. The same type of interview was repeated after 10 days. Tapes and texts of the interviews were finally given to the patients according to previously agreed therapeutic procedure. Both autobiographical texts were analysed with a coding instrument (N.O.I.S.) created on purpose. The second autobiography showed, in comparison to the first one, a significant increase of the themes regarding the “active self”, “evaluation of the self”, “metanarrative considerations” and “causal connections”. The Authors consider these changes as an effect of autobiographical process on the narrator’s self definition.

Meaning construction within narratives of adults with cerebral palsy

Paulo França Santos & Silviane Barbato (University of Brasilia, Brazil)


Within psychology, we still have a limited number of studies devoted to the discursive practices and meaning-making processes of people with cerebral palsy. Therefore, this presentation is focused on 5 interviews with adults diagnosed with cerebral palsy (3 men and 2 women) under professional care in a rehabilitation centre. Our aim is to clarify the following questions: How do these participants describe themselves and how do they shape their identities? What kinds of difficulties are described and how do they cope with them? What sort of meanings emerge in the dialogical exchanges involved in their life narratives? Methodologically, we privilege a qualitative approach, within a dialogical and socio-historical perspective. This choice is associated with the claim that qualitative research is a complex process of knowledge construction that enables a distinctive look at some fundamental issues of any human or social problem. The results are theoretically explored in order to demonstrate how the notion of ‘dialogical self’ may contribute to the understanding of meaning-making processes in people with cerebral palsy.

10h15 – 11h45

Paper 19
Cyber-realities

Chair: Vincent Hevern (Le Moyne College, USA)



Face-to-face or voice-to-voice? Electronic media’s impact on the metaphor “voice” in dialogical self

Nora Ruck & Thomas Slunecko (University of Vienna, Austria)


Metaphors guide our everyday and scientific thought. They are taken from one’s immediate surrounding (source domain) and projected onto another domain of reference (target domain). Since media are an integral part of the human life world, they co-create or transform the ‘metaphors we live by’. In this paper we refer to the metaphor ‘voice’ in the dialogical self from a media-theoretical perspective. We suggest that this metaphor does not solely reflect the human voice as it occurs in purely oral cultures, but is influenced by amplifications and transformations of the voice brought about by electronic media. The metaphor can be thought of as reflecting a historical and cultural shift in the source domain from ‘face-to-face’ to ‘voice-to-voice’. The argument is substantiated by a close examination of the voice in primary oral communication, of its altered scope within the electronic media, and of its being used as a metaphor in the dialogical self. We suggest that some of the theory’s cultural biases hinted at by commentators (e.g., ‘I-ness’ of the self, or the reification of self and culture) may reflect the electronic media’s influence on the metaphor ‘voice’.

Emboding voices in a university web-forum

M. B. Ligorio, P. F. Spadaro & D. Ciccarelli (University of Bari, Italy)


Bakthin introduced the idea of “voices” as an important theoretical concept for investigating human development. The implication is that human beings are able to “appropriate” someone else’s voice, but sometimes they ventriloquate them, other times they embody the “voices”. With this paper we explore how university students “voice” different points of view while discussing in a web-forum meant as support for a regular university course. 15 students participate for one semester. The two longest “threads” were selected and 31 notes were analysed. A quali-quantitative methodology was used. First, the “voices” were singled out; secondly, were defined dimensions able to describe the quality of the voices, such as argumentation style (agreement/disagreement; asking/giving information; etc), I-positioning (the sceptical; the confident; etc.), and narrative formats (metaphor; analogy; etc.); finally, the correlation between the voices and the other dimensions was measured via statistical tests. It was found that students “personify” many voices and specific patterns of correlation emerge between voices and dimensions. For example, the adult “voices” are embodied by systematically asking for information and clarification; whilst children are voiced without a specific argumentation style.

The virtual self in pathological internet usage

Tomasz Rowinski (Cardinal Stephan Wyszynski University, Poland)


The virtual self shows how the dialogicality of self can lead to fulfilment of motives in the cyber space. There are many studies focused on a the pathological usage of the Internet, but the issue how the basic motives can be fulfilled by interactions in the Net seems to be a problem which hasn’t been explored yet. The author of this paper assumes that the Internet is an environment in which basic motives can be fulfilled, especially the motives of self-enhancement (S) and the motive of longing for the union and contact with something or someone else (O), described by Hermans and Hermans Jansen (1995). A study on a sample of 330 subjects affirms such anticipations. A canonical correlation analysis confirmed that the motives S and O are the strongest predictors of pathological Internet usage. If the offline relationships did not fulfil these motives, then it would engage the subject to invest more energy in this activity. It is hypothesized that Internet usage creates some form of compensation of the motive O and S, so that it becomes some kind of virtual self. At the same time, the space of real contacts is seriously restricted.

Alterity and emotions in online educational settings

Luísa Aires (Universidade Aberta, Portugal) & Sílvia Silva (CEEI, Universidade Aberta, Portugal)


The purpose of this paper is to expose some elements of a research about interpersonal relations and emotions in online educational settings. The most important theoretical referents are Bakhtin´s and Vygotsky´s voices. We also consider other authors such as Wertsch (1988; 1993), Ramirez (1995), Lévy (1999), Gover and Gavelek (1996).

Bakhtins´s constructs like dialogy, alterity, instersubjectivity and intonation, and Vygotsky´s perspective about alterity in conscience and social construction of knowledge allow us to consider that, in virtual learning communities, interpersonal relations are far from being neutral (Lévy, 1999). In fact, these communities include individual responsibility, judgment and emotions as social constructs. Online interpersonal relations are regulated by shared values, affinities and partnerships but also by conflicts.

Emotions not simply impact learning but are essential constituents of it (Gover and Gavelek, 1996). In online educational settings, we teach learners how to think, but we also teach them how to feel.

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