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



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14h15 – 15h45

Symposium 11
Dialogue, semiotic triads and third parties

Ivana Marková (University of Stirling, UK)


Humans involved in day-to-day conversation, in reading novels, watching television or negotiating their points of view are well aware that dialogue takes place simultaneously at different levels and in different forms. Hiding some ideas and strategically exposing others, carrying internal dialogues, changing their points of view, abandoning or contradicting ideas that they defended earlier – all these processes belong to the art of conversation as well as to the established common-sense practices in communication. For great novelists and writers this complexity of language and dialogue provides infinite resources for exploring the creative nature of conversation, dialogical cognition, emotions and, we can say, for exploring the human drama in its entirety. But these multifaceted features of dialogical communication create tremendous difficulties for social science researchers trying to empirically combat such complexity. This symposium brings to attention (rather than resolves) some of these complexities of dialogue and dialogicality, focusing in particular on the concept of ‘the third parties’, subjectivity and self/other interdependence.

Dialogue, Semiotic Triads and Third Parties

Per Linell (Linköping University, Sweden)


In this contribution I intend to tie together two notions in dialogical theory that, on the face of it, may appear to be unrelated, namely, on the one hand, the presence of “third parties” in most, or even all, communicative encounters, and, on the other, the relevance of “semiotic triads” in the explication of dialogue. The first-mentioned point implies that dialogue is not really between “I” and “thou” only. Instead, we have to acknowledge the importance of several others, which may be understood as third parties of (quite) different kinds. Some of these may be referred as “we”, “they” or “one” (i.e. French on). On quite different grounds, it has been suggested that dialogical theory must build on the notion of (semiotic) triads (Marková, 2003). Three of the most well-known of these are: the “situational” triad “here-now-I”, the “pragmatic” triad “I-you-it” and the “abstract semiotic” triad “word-concept-referent”. These triads don´t seem to be mutually exclusive. And yet they are not sufficient. “Third parties” must enter the picture too. I shall discuss some of the intrinsic relations between these conceptualisations.

Keywords: Dialogue, triad, third parties, semiotics, language



Beyond words: Subjectivity, dialogicality and third parties.

João Salgado & Tiago Ferreira (ISMAI, Portugal)


Bearing upon some previous works, we argue that subjectivity can be conceived of as a form of internal dialogicality, in which three different but bounded elements inter-relate: an I, an Inner Alter and Inner Audiences. Within this model the notion of I-position becomes a product of the moment-by-moment configuration of such communicational space. In this occasion we will develop this basic schematic model, focusing on the coordination between verbal and non-verbal dynamics of the triad I-Inner Alter-Inner Audiences, arguing that some of the most important features of those processes cannot be reduced to its verbal features – even if verbally performed. Therefore, it is possible that subjectivity, in terms of content, may seem different from the conception we have when it is conceived in its communicational and pragmatic sphere.

The speaker’s positioning: A manifestation of the dialogicality of the self

Michèle Grossen (University of Lausanne, Switzerland) & Anne Salazar Orvig (University of Paris 3, France)


The notion of dialogical self is both a theoretical and a methodological challenge. As a matter of fact, if we want to be coherent with the notion of self or dialogicality, we have to assume that dialogicality is not only a relevant property of interlocution but is constitutive of discourse. From this standpoint, the speaker’s positioning might be considered to be a manifestation of dialogicality. In fact (and in line with Bakhtin), any discourse is always a specific point of view on the world; it is based upon responsive understanding, which implies that the speaker’s positioning is inherent to discourse. In this paper, we shall examine the various forms that positioning may take within discourse in interactional contexts. In order to do so, we shall draw on Bakhtin’s notion of voice and heteroglossia, as well as on various elements taken from the enunciative theory initiated by Benveniste and followed by various researchers. Our data will be taken from three different corpora: discussions in focus-groups concerning medical confidentiality, therapeutic interviews, face-to-face research interviews. Our analyses will lead us to highlighting the subject’s heterogeneity, to showing the complexity of the notion of dialogue itself, as well as to claiming that most of the methodological tools used in social sciences fail to account for the dialogicality of the self.

The third parties in internal dialogues

Ivana Marková (University of Stirling, UK)


Using data from discussion groups collected in the Czech Republic and in France, this paper explores the participants’ representations of the individual’s responsibility for past events that caused much suffering to others. Theoretically, the paper focuses on the relationship between the external dialogue, i.e. what is actually said by the participants of the discussion group and the internal dialogue, i.e. what the participant may implicitly and symbolically represent but would not necessarily bring into speech. Considering different kinds of internal dialogues and ‘the inner Alter’ in these two corpuses, this paper examines the ways in which ‘the third party’ is brought into speech and the discursive and linguistic means achieving that.

14h15 – 15h45

Symposium 12

Semiotic analysis: An approach to the meaning making process

Catarina Rosa & Filipa Duarte (University of Minho, Portugal)


Discussant: Jaan Valsiner (Clark University, USA)
In a remarkable effort for giving significance to the unceasing experiencing flow, people are constantly involved in a process of meaning construction, in order to regulate their relations with the environment (Valsiner, 1998). In order to assure the psychological survival when facing the developmental challenges inherent to the life course (e.g. marriage or transition to parenthood), or coping with deviance to the normative trajectory (e.g. the experience of sexual abuse), subjects need to permanently update their personal meanings that allow the integration of each experience. In this symposium, we suggest that the semiotic analysis developed by Valsiner and collaborators (Josephs, Valsiner & Surgan, 1999) may be used as an interpretative methodology to analyse the mechanisms involved in the meaning making, with regard of the dialogical and dynamic nature of subjective experience. We intend to illustrate it by applying this methodology of analysis to such distinct data as the self-referential discourse (exploring the specificities of the marital relation and of the transition to parenthood) and the narration of child sexual abuse experiences (from the child and the mother standpoints).

Construction of meaning –making and mutuality in psychotherapy

María Teresa del Río Albornoz (Catholic University of Chile, Chile)


People has to face processes that are irreversible in nature, and to be able to seize this quality, we have to use a cultural historical perspective. (Bergson, 1959, Valsiner, 1997, Wertsch, 1988, 1991) Cultural psychology has highlighted the fact that people process immersed in cultural contexts. They do so with time, in which exchange individual / social context is reformulated, through semiotic autoregulation of the individual mind (Valsiner, 2004). We try to appreciate processing at a microgenetic level. When a child goes to therapy due to abuse, we are faced with a chance to appreciate psychological elaboration helped by the psychotherapist. The therapeutic session is an irreversible time-space instance for the child to process psychologically. Our focus is on appearance of meaning-making complexes that becomes evident through shifting semiotic fields and the tension aroused is expressed as ambivalence that can be discerned in semiotic analysis. We intend to reflect ongoing meaning construction in mutuality in a negotiated temporal frame. Excerpts of therapeutic sessions with issues around abuse situations are analyzed.

Dialogical context in making sense of experience: Pertinence to psychotherapy

María Elisa Molina Pavez (Catholic University of Chile, Chile)


The study takes the assumption of a socially guided, dialogical and transforming self. It focuses on person and culture relation, and its function in psychological change and stability. This relationship is carried out in the meaning making process, which takes place at the emergent moment of experience, in the here and now context. The person carries his/her idiosyncratic constructions getting in dialogue with social representations offered by and constructed with others. The I-positions take different perspectives according to whom they represent and to the generalization degree of the meaning they construct at the multivoiced self. The study uses semiotic analysis to approach to subjective experience; a semiotically guided phenomenon that takes place in a microgenetic level. We pretend to explore: a) How people negotiate between personal meanings and those offered by culture? b) What function social representations fulfill in elaborating the emotional experience? c) What function semiotic mediation fulfills?

Categories of analysis will be presented with an illustration of cases attending psychotherapy.



Dialogical articulation and the transition to parenthood

Filipa Duarte & Miguel Gonçalves (University of Minho, Portugal)


In a previous study, we developed a methodology that invites the subjects to deal with the dualities of the dialogical self (Dialogical Articulation Task – DAT). This methodology, grounded on the Dialogical Self Theory, is intended to study the way people construct meaning about the dialogical processes underlying the management of identity diversity. In order to explore the construction processes of these regulatory semiotic tools, we apply Valsiner’s semiotic analysis to the participants discourse. Assuming that the process of transition to parenthood constitutes a remarkable event throughout the personal developmental course and that it has implications in the way a person defines him/herself, we are interested in its possible effects on the organization of the I-positions repertoire. Therefore, in this presentation we discuss the results of the application of DAT to this specific life transition. Two assessment moments are considered in order to contrast the prenatal expectations concerning this new I-position with the postnatal experience of parenthood. By comparing the DAT obtained in these two moments, we explore the accommodations made necessary by this life event in the global dialogical processes of the self-system.

Dialogical articulation in close relationships: The partner’s role in self-management

Catarina Rosa & Miguel Gonçalves (University of Minho, Portugal)


This research project lies on two complementary theoretical foundations: the concept of self multivoicedness, borrowed from the Dialogical Self Theory (Hermans, 1996) and the analysis of the meaning making process suggested by Valsiner (Josephs, Valsiner & Surgan, 1999). In a previous exploratory study, we have developed a methodology to access the dialogical processes of construction of semiotic tools and a path of analysis to explore how these processes enable self-regulation (Dialogical Articulation Task, DAT). The interesting results about the relevance of the significant others in these self-regulatory dynamics have sustained the present study focus in close relationships. The general goals of this study are: a) to analyze the dynamics established among the various internal I-positions that constitute the self-system, attending to the dynamics associated with the partner I-position; b) to understand the role played by the external positions, namely the partner, and their eventual influence upon the internal dynamics of the self-system, and c) to explore if the dialogical self-management ability is influenced by the level of satisfaction in the marital relation. In this presentation we will illustrate this methodology and these goals by analyzing a couple’s case.

14h15 – 15h45

Paper 24
Discursive practices and dialogical processes

Chair: Wolfram Fischer (University of Kassel, Germany)



Ways of discourse and modes of argumentation. Dialogical processes in adult education

Alejandro Barragán & Mercedes Cubero (University of Seville, Spain)


We start from the Cultural Psychology perspective in which human development is viewed as a process of dialogical interaction between individuals, cultural tools and the activity setting in which individuals develop. The psychological actions that individuals carry out in a new particular activity setting have a very strong influence to the use of new discourse genres as well as news ways of thinking. Formal adult education is a privileged context to observe the consequences of dialogical processes. Adult education activities is also a privileged context to observe how the appropriation of new discursive genres take place and how individuals use them as well as the old ones. The study of classrooms of adult education, where individuals acquire tools for their reading and writing development, lets us to observe how these tools give them the possibility to carry out new cognitive actions. Furthermore, it lets us observe how these new acquisitions are related to the existence of new ways of thinking that coexist with the old ones.

Lack of dialogue and the process of construction of meanings in the Program of Health Family, Brazil

Elaine Pedreira Rabinovich (Catholic University of Salvador, Brazil)



The study, using participant observation and field diary, analyzed two dialogues between the professional team and families of a Program of Family Health located in São Paulo, Brazil. This analysis was based on the Social Support Model which understands that interpersonal relationships can help coping by providing informational, emotional and instrumental support. One case illustrated “learned deprivation” by which looking exclusively for instrumental support does not allow other kinds of supportive transaction. Another case pointed to the conscience of rights not necessarily being connected to a realistic awareness of the meaning of these rights. Therefore different levels of meaning constrained the dialogue between families and professional workers. These failures of communication were understood as consequences of historical processes where the position of the population as clients have been related to an authoritarian Public Policy. So, the individual self may not always be understood as a product of a pluralistic and multivoiced system because “epistemicide” – the hegemonic power blocking pluralistic knowledge - may not allow some voices to even speak.

Judicial dialogues: An historical/cultural perspective

Maria R. Boes (West Chester University, USA)

It is the objective of this study to probe oral judicial dialogues conducted in sixteenth and seventeenth century German courts to establish the identity of suspects and witnesses. In the absence of an institutionalized written identification system, such early modern judicial verbal dialogues are one of the few sources available to present-day observers to construct contemporary perceptions of what constituted an identity and to extrapolate possible diverging cultural approaches and patterns especially with regard to Jews and Gypsies. Original criminal court documents serve as the base for this project.

Culture and conflicting identities: A case study

Margarida César (University of Lisbon, Portugal)


During the last decades Portuguese society became more multicultural. Usually gypsies and students from African countries tend to experience higher levels of underachievement and social exclusion. They experience conflicting identities within their learning settings. Interaction and Knowledge is a research project. It studies and promotes peer interactions and inclusive learning settings. Participants are students (5th to 12th grades), teachers/researchers, and psychologists. Data collecting instruments include participant observation (audio and/or video taped), interviews, questionnaires, reports, and students’ protocols. They worked collaboratively during a school year. The analysis of a case study (one student from Cape Verde and his peer, from the mainstream culture, 9th grade, including a 10 years follow up) illuminates the conflicting identities and their role in these students’ life, namely in their mathematical knowledge appropriation and socio-cognitve and emotional development. Not belonging to the mainstream culture is a barrier students need to overcome in order to achieve their life projects. Their conflicting identities are clearly seen in their accounts and peer interactions. This empirical evidence shows how difficult it is to belong to different social groups.

14h15 – 15h45

Paper 25
Analyzing psychotherapy

Chair: William B. Stiles (Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, USA)



Group techniques and dialogical effects: Similarities between different narrative approaches

Jesús Garcia-Martínez (University of Seville, Spain)


This is a conceptual paper, more than a empirical one. Dialogical model has emphasised the role of the internal dialogues as the major way to promote changes during the therapeutic processes. Persons are social and relational organisms, so the relationships and the dialogues between persons are a basic mechanism to promote personal changes and new personal meanings. The use of explicit and external dialogues with other persons, especially when they are similar to us in some specific ways (similar problems, similar life contexts) could be an adequate mechanism to promote therapeutic changes from a dialogical point of view. In this sense, some group techniques, as the Interpersonal Transaction Group or The Discussion Group, are related with the nature of the dialogical model. Interpersonal dialogue (between persons) is a mean to search for new meanings to change my identity. But this search is done in two different fields: in the other-experience and in my own experience. This reconstruction of the identity is got usually by two ways: a) Improving some aspects of the personal system of construction (improving the relevance of some voices); b) Reducing others (minimizing the relevance of other voices). Different narrative models have a similar conception about the relevance of group processes to dialogical changes. These similarities are described. Some group interactions are described to exemplify the change of voices during therapeutic processes.

Moments of shared experience: Empathy and psychotherapy

Thorsten Gieser (University of Aberdeen, UK)


In this paper I suggest that a phenomenological approach to empathy can help to explore the potentiality of the Dialogical Self. By examining a psychotherapist’s accounts of his empathic experiences with clients, I will propose that the therapist first develops a representation of the dialogical self of his client, including the emotional values of each of her positions, in the field of the external positions of his own dialogical self. Through his sympathizing mode of attending to the client, the therapist develops his own emotional responses to these positions as experienced when listening to the client’s narratives. Thereby, both client and therapist create a ‘synchronity of intention’ and emotion. The boundary of the representation of the client’s dialogical self in the field of the therapist’s field of external positions dissolves. The therapist now experiences the client’s positions as related to his own internal positions. His other external positions and the representation of the client’s internal positions are being suppressed. I suggest that the therapeutical process lives from an interplay between these ‘moments of shared experience’ and a distancing from the client. Interpreting empathy in this way may open up new insights into intersubjectivity in psychotherapy.

Dialogical self-help contexts for psychological disorders

P. F. Spadaro, M. B. Ligorio (University of Bari, Italy) & M. Iodice (University of Salerno, Italy)


Otherness is a key element in the Dialogical Self theory. Selfhood can emerge, in fact, through the activity of looking at the “others”. Psychological disorders, such as eating disorders, can be well treated within groups of peers. In particular self-help web-forums afford “disembodied” communication among people with similar problems. In such environments, users can expand their dialogical opportunities and identities become discourse practices. In this paper we describe a self-help web-forum inhabited by people with eating disorders. A questionnaire aimed at inquiring motivations of participation and perception of the forum experience was administrated to 16 users. Users seem to be strongly stimulated by the need to find an intimate community of pairs. We propose the metaphor of a “protected next” to describe the users’ feelings. Furthermore, the qualitative analysis of the notes posted reveals the modalities through which participants give advice and ask for help. These modalities are closely related to the dialogical negotiation of I-positioning. Results of this kind may improve the efficacy of such environments for psychological disorders treatment.

16h00 – 17h30

Paper 26
Emotions and the dialogical self

Chair: Jesús Garcia-Martínez (University of Seville, Spain)



Dynamic conceptualization of feelings based on dialogical self theory

Agnieszka Konopka & Henryk Gasiul (Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski University, Poland)


The Dialogical Self, was described by Gonçalves and Salgado as “one of the most promising ways to develop a dynamic perspective on selfhood”(Gonçalves & Salgado, 2001, s. 367).

Departing from the Dialogical Self Theory (Hermans, 2001, 2003, 2004, Hermans & Kempen, 1993) the authors are going to present the dynamic, dialogical conceptualization of feelings and results of the research based on such a model. Feelings from this perspective can be described as relational processes involving dynamic aspects of emotional experience: emotional movements (EM), understood as changes in experience of self and action tendencies (AT). Two lists of verbs: LEV (Konopka, 2004) and the list from the Self Confrontation Method (Hermans, 1985) have been applied to explore dynamic aspects of emotional experience of 14 feelings. Research made on the group of 120 participants showed significant differences between positive and negative feelings and 14 specific categories of feelings. These findings will be discussed from the perspective of The Dialogical Self Theory and Fredrickson’s (1998) broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions.



Reframing flow experiences from self dialogical processes

Yolanda Ruiz Ordóñez (Catholic University of Valencia, Spain), Cornelia Teodora Lungu & Virginia Carrero Planes (University Jaime I Castellón, Spain)


Research on peak experiences has brought out the main role of feeling pleasure when the person is enrolled in certain activities. These experiences have been referred to as full joy, general wellbeing or flow. According to literature review, needs satisfaction, competence self-perception or personal growing stages are the most frequent perspectives used to explain the quality of these experiences; but more empirical research is required in order to clarify the main processes involved. The goal of this paper deals on explaining flow experiences from self’s construction processes. A Grounded Theory methodology from a qualitative generating perspective is used. Results show the relevance of self-expressing processes when flow emerges. An empirical model of self’s construction processes is proposed for developing self–perception stages: from an " I-result ", where the person focuses on reproducing pleasure situations, toward an "I-state", in which attention is paid to living in coherence with the essential-self (eudaimonist perspective). The discovery of self dialogical mechanisms in self-expressing processes and their consequences for self motivational theory are discussed.

The relation between self-construals and language for emotions in personal narratives of males and females

Ayfer Dost & Aylin C. Kuntay (Koç University, Turkey)


It has been argued that individual’s self construals and their cognitive and affective processes are related such that self-construals affect the way people process information and narrate their experiences. In turn, how information is processed and narrated as a personal experience reaffirms self-construals. In the literature, it has also been suggested that the socialization of self and emotion proceed parallel to one another in a gender differentiated way. There are also suggestions in the literature that gender differences can be explained by differences in self construals of males and females. In that connection, the present study aims to explore how self-construals are related to language for emotions in personal narratives. The sample consists of Turkish males and females whose ages range in between 20-60. This study also aims to see whether differences in language for emotions in personal narratives of males and females can be explained by the differences in their self-construals. Findings will be discussed with respect to the relation between self and culture, and the role of culture in shaping certain aspects of the self.

The most dialogical feeling: Love

Agnieskza Konopka (Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski University, Poland)


Emotions have a central role in the self organization and change within the self. Besides that, the emotional mechanisms underlying this change haven’t been explained enough yet (Greenberg, 2004, Magai and McFadden, 1996). The further exploration of changes provoked by feelings can lead to a better understanding of the transformation processes and can also be an important step toward a more dynamic conceptualization of feelings. Some authors conclude that love has an especially strong influence on the self organization. It can lead to a significant change in the self (Person, 1988) and it is often the basic power of transformation (Magai, McFadden, 1996). In this presentation we treat the feeling of love as a source of movement within the self conceptualized in terms of Dialogical Self Theory (Hermans, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2004). This theory is considered to be an excellent base for understanding emotional processes in terms of their dynamism. We are going to present a comparison between love and other 13 feelings in terms of changes which they provoke. Two kinds of changes have been described in a proposed model: change in the self (general, positive and negative) and action tendencies (general, positive and negative). It has been found out that love, compared with 13 feelings, provokes the highest level of general change in the self, general action tendencies, positive change in the self and positive action tendencies. In general terms, love was connected with the highest level of changes within the self and motivation. The author is going to discus love as a source of movement within the self as a basis for a dialogicality of the self.
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