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



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18h30 – 19h30

Paper 6
Using the PPR and the Self-Confrontation Method

Chair: Stefan van Geelen (University Medical Center Utrecht, The Netherlands)



Personal position repertoire method applied for exploration of significant interpersonal relationship

Agnieszka Konopka (Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski University, Poland) & Miguel Gonçalves (University of Minho, Portugal)


One of the characteristics of the Personal Position Repertoire (Hermans 2001, 2003) is its broad character, which allows for applying it within different types of research with varied groups and methodologies. In the proposed research the PPR procedure is restricted to a particular personal relationship, chosen by the participant. In personally significant relationships people are related with each other from different I positions. Taking into account internal I positions of one person and internal I positions of the other person at the same time, can elicit important information about the relationship and its dynamism, understood as an internal system of I positions within a dyad. Internal I positions of the other person can be treated from the perspective of the participant as his or her external I positions, and they can be identified in a subjective way. In such a procedure the analysis is focused on relations between internal I positions of the participant and I positions of the significant other identified by participant. Analysis is focused on interactions between I positions and feelings connected with evoked I positions. We are going to discuss the procedure from the perspectives of Dialogical Self Theory (Hermans 2001, 2003, 2004) and a communicational view on interpersonal relationships (Watzlawick, Beavin & Jackson, 1967).

The personal position repertoires of adolescents with chronic fatigue syndrome

Stefan van Geelen, C. Fuchs, G. Sinnema, H. J. M. Hermans & W. Kuis (University Medical Center Utrecht, The Netherlands)


One of the main characteristics of the concept of the dialogical self is that it implies –within the self- complex patterns of dialogical relationships between internal and external positions. The Personal Position Repertoire method (PPR) is a relatively new, theory-guided method developed by Hermans, to assess these relationships. This method allows not only a study of the organisation and reorganisation of the position repertoire within the same individual, but also enables a comparison between different individuals with regard to similarities and distinctions between several positions. At present, a large scale randomised trial into the self-narratives and personal positioning of adolescent patients and a healthy control group, and the effectiveness of the PPR and Selfconfrontation methods as counselling tools for these patients is being executed, at the University Medical Centre Utrecht, The Netherlands. As part of this research the Personal Position Repertoires of the participating adolescents were studied at the start and end of the counselling periods. In this paper the preliminary PPRresults of 20 adolescent patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome will be presented on a group level and related to the independent outcome measures of fatigue and psychosocial wellbeing. These results will be illustrated by two individual case studies in which the inherent relation between the position repertoire and the affective structure of the stories these patients tell about themselves will be discussed.

The Team Confrontation Method

Peter Zomer (Zomer & Cornelissen, The Netherlands)


In April 2006, I defended my thesis on a new method for developing teams: the Team Confrontation Method. The thesis reports on the theoretical grounding of this method, the design choices made in order to shape it and, finally, the testing of its performance in practice. As a result, a theory-based and tested method is added to the field of team development. The TCM borrows its principles and core concepts from the Self Confrontation Method (SCM) and the related Valuation Theory (VT) and theory of the Dialogical Self (DS) of Hermans (Hermans & Hermans-Jansen, 1995). The SCM is a method for individual self development that is used in psychotherapy and counselling / coaching; VT and DS study the functioning of the self and the role of meaning-making processes connected with it. For the grounding of the TCM, we need to extend central concepts of VT and DS (valuation, affect and voice) from the individual to the collective level of functioning. We reviewed relevant literature and came to the new concepts of collective valuation, collective affect, collective voice and deviant voice. Essentially, the TCM is about collective meaning-making in teams and ways to stimulate it in a productive way. After having grounded the core concepts that the TCM should make use of, we set out to design its features. Firstly, we stressed the importance of a spirit of joint investigation among all parties involved (scientists, practitioners and team members) as a precondition, implicating an active role for team members to investigate their own reality as well as a willingness of practitioners and scientists to submit their investigative activities to the benefit of the team’s exploration. Secondly, we designed a sequence of interventions that combine assessment with process promotion. In this sequence, reflection and action of team members are intertwined: the team investigates its reality by collecting data and interpreting them meaningfully, and discovering repetitive patterns of cooperation (reflection); it then carries on to improve its reality by actively trying to breach these patterns (action), the result of which is evaluated after some period (reflection). The design of the method was followed by a validation of constructs and functional propositions. Firstly, we developed and tested the assessment instruments to be used. Collective valuation, collective affect and collective voice were shown to be sensibly measurable. Secondly, we tested the different functional features of the method: by six case studies of teams where the TCM was used, we generated insight into the quality of the method’s performance.

In this Braga paper session, I will present the essences of the method in further detail.



18h30 – 19h30

Paper 7
Childhood and socialization

Chair: Matthew Adams (University of Brighton, UK)



Persistence of meanings in children’s interactional fields and emergence of peer culture

Ana Carvalho, Amélia Império-Hamburger, Nestor Oiwa (University of São Paulo, Brazil) & Isabel Pedrosa (Federal University of Pernambuco, Brazil)


Along years of observation of play among children aged 12 to 36 months, some concepts and principles emerged for the understanding of the ontogeny of sociability. The concept of interactional field involves the recognition of children’s groups as self-organizing systems with a potential for mutual regulation and construction of novelty. These are expressed in the principles of orientation of attention, shared meanings and persistence of meanings in the system. Persistence of meanings is at the root of the notion of culture. Peer culture is already recognized in the literature. How to describe and analyze the processes through which meanings persist and produce cultural facts in peer groups is the focus of our current work. Studying sequences of children’s activities, we perform qualitative descriptions and then measure long-ranged correlations in time, indicating collective memory. We detect a typical signature of self-organization: 1/f noise, a type of the noise related with the fractional Brownian movement. We report some statistics related with regulation, co-regulation and correlation.

Early dialogicality and language socialization

Juan Jose Yoseff Bernal (National Autonomous University of Mexico, Mexico) & Mercedes Cubero Pérez (University of Seville, Spain)


Early dialogicality in infants appears very soon in their life. It is expressed in movements, gestures or other non-verbal behaviours (Fogel et al, 2002; Hermans, 2001). All of these ways in which infants could participate and contribute to dialogue are observed in a ”communicative project”. It is considered as a dynamic process, as a joint activity, that is co-constituted by infants and adults. The aim of this paper is to analyze a conversational project and to study how the communicative abilities of infants and adults are transformed in the developmental process of the child. To do this we observed one child since he was ten months until two years old. The conversational project is analyzed as a local project of spontaneous, natural or informal conversation between the child and other participants. The analysis of the resources used by the child and his parents gives us evidences that the language potentialities, as prosthetic mechanism, are important to understand the socio-cultural competence.

Dialogical processes in early self-development and early relational traumatisation

Katalin Lénárd (University of Pécs, Hungary)


The intersubjective processes of the early self-development can be interpreted as a dynamic constructive process in which both the child and the mother are in an ongoing mutually understanding, interpreting, and meaning constructive relationship. In my view – to paraphrase Winnicott – the mother acts as a “good enough recipient”. The text – the child itself in this framework – obtains its meaning, sense and raison d'ętre through her “reading” constructive interpretation. It is not only the infant’s self that if forming in the course of this intersubjective, interpreting, dialogical process, the other is also shaping, to put it nicely “a mother is being born”. If the “good enough mother” functions as a “good enough recipient” it is the dialogic, intersubjective nature of meaning construction that prevents the meanings connected to self-development from being arbitrarily prescribed. That is, they should not be constructed by parental will and authority, but only by mutually productive reception.

In this framework the traumatizing moment/episode (the ‘confusion of tongues’-Ferenczi), is the continuously misunderstanding interpretation, in which the mother, the recipient misinterprets the text and relates to the child as “the original text” through this misinterpretation. The ‘translation’ that is created through the maternal interpretation and mediation processes, will differ from the original source. In case of the early trauma this difference does not only mean misunderstanding, as misunderstanding and errors may be an inherent part of all interpreting processes (Heidegger). The early relational trauma is a different case. I consider the process of early traumatization as the lack of dialogicity and not simply a misunderstanding.



18h30 – 19h30

Paper 8
Theoretical reflections

Chair: Colin B. Grant (University of Surrey, UK)



Global and local – Space and place

Pauline Mottram (Queen Margaret University College, UK)


The world’s major geographical regions intertwine in economic and cultural interdependence. Bhatia & Ram (2001) suggest that mass media, travel and information technology produce and rotate cultural meanings and practices globally and locally. I examine intersections of the global and the local within a frame of post-industrial, multi-cultural Manchester (England). I employ Hermans (2003) definition of the dialogical self as a ‘dynamic multiplicity of voiced positions in the landscape of the mind’ to explore accounts by participants who have re-located to Manchester. In contrast to Bakhtinian understandings (Bostad 2004) of the dialogical environment as intrinsically spatially and temporally inter-connected, I find that as cultures are deterritorialised, transposed or transported to other locations the range of possible positionings are increasingly complex, crosshatched and potentially dissonant. Whilst recognising ongoing processes of multidirectional inter-subjective exchange (Kac 2004), I draw upon Marková’s (2003) explication of dialogical triads to examine participants’ temporary anchoring of representations of place and space.

Hermeneutics and the dialogical process

Maria Antónia Jardim (University Fernando Pessoa, Portugal)


It will be our concern to link the concept of hermeneutics to the dialogic process of self-discovery. We shall focus on the connection between two discourses: the discourse of the text and the discourse of interpretation and the kind of worlds they disclose. The hermeneutical idea of subjectivity as a dialectic between the self and mediated social meanings will be pointed out as well as an ethic of the word that language opens up. We shall regard the self-understanding of man, his self-development, dependent on this dimension of language as a disclosure of possibility. It is by an understanding of the worlds, opened by language that we may arrive at a better understanding of ourselves as human beings. Hermeneutics is an instrument of self-interpretation and self-evaluation that crosses the dialogical process; which means it is an instrument to psychology as a subjective science.

Embryology confronts immunology: Self and other in the World of cancer

Paul Stoller (West Chester University, USA)


In his groundbreaking work, The Age of Immunology (2003) David Napier demonstrates how immunological metaphors tend to maintain discrete boundaries between health and illness, and self and other. Within this metaphorical framework, bacteria, viruses and tumors are considered to be not-self—unwanted aliens in the body that must be destroyed for the self to regain its normal healthy state. These same metaphors, Napier argues, can be extended to social life, in which selves (like-minded people who follow the same social and cultural practices) must keep themselves isolated from others (those whose different ways may threaten homogenous practice). Immunological thinking is monologic. Arguing that immunological thinking may compel us to become weaker and weaker copies of ourselves, Napier suggests that we adopt the dialogically-oriented epistemological practices of many non-Western peoples through which the self grows through the incorporation of other. Such a shift to embryological thinking and practice, he argues, can diversify the content of our being and enable us to grow. In this paper, I argue that we extend Napier’s notion of embryological thinking and practice to the world of cancer. As I argue in my book, Stranger in the Village of the Sick (2004), immunological metaphors constrain our thinking about cancer. In this paper, I discuss how my long-term exposure to West African conceptions of disease, which incorporate illness into one’s being, enabled me to use my confrontation with cancer to grow stronger and to develop more fully as a human being.

Friday, June 2nd, 2006
9h00 – 10h00

Keynote Speaker
Hubert Hermans (Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands)

The dialogical self: State of the art
The area of the dialogical self represents a relatively new field of study that appeals to a growing number of researchers and practitioners. It develops as a truly interdisciplinary, international and intercultural endeavor that stimulates students of self and society to cross the boundaries of their original (sub)disciplinary training that is felt by many as a restricting their interest to ‘insular knowledge’. The recent birth of the International Journal for Dialogical Science (IJDS) (www.dialogical.org) serves as a stimulating example of ‘the art of boundary crossing’, as evidenced by its first issue which appeared in the spring of 2006. In this issue a group of renowned scholars have presented a series of psychological, sociological and philosophical contributions that address the problems of an individual self that is challenged to develop a position repertoire flexible enough to give an adequate answer to an increasingly complex, changing, and globalizing society. The fact that this society is filled with oppositions and fluctuating tensions requires the individual to develop a dialogical capacity that is able to work as a productive counter-force to monological forces that reduce the possible richness and openness of the self. It is my purpose to elaborate on these stimulating publications by addressing a number of divergent topics, such as: dialogical misunderstanding as a starting point of communication between groups or individuals; the implications of the over-population of voices in the self in a globalizing world; the existence of contradiction and social dominance as intrinsic to the notion of dialogue; the importance of alterity in social communication, and the prospect of developing a ‘third position’ in case of irreconcilable conflicts between polarizing positions.

10h15 – 11h15

Lecturer 1
Dan P. McAdams (Northwestern University, USA)

The redemptive self: Stories Americans live by
Systematic analysis of hundreds of life stories collected over the past 15 years suggests that midlife American adults who score especially high on well-validated measures of generativity (indicating a strong commitment to promoting the well-being of youth and future generations) tend to construct self-defining life narratives that emphasize the theme of personal redemption. In American society, redemption is often narrated through the culturally-contoured discourses of atonement, upward social mobility, personal liberation, and/or recovery. Each of these redemptive discourses reflects powerful cultural motifs in American society that may be traced back to the 17th-century Puritan settlers and forward to contemporary canonical narratives found in Hollywood movies, American television, and the self-help industry. The redemptive self is a characteristically American life-narrative form that functions to promote a generative (caring and productive) approach to life at midlife, even as it hints at important limitations and prejudices in Americans’ understandings of themselves and their place in the world. The story also reflects a strong dialogical conundrum in American society – that is, the problem of narrating a good life that gives voice to both freedom and belongingness.

10h15 – 11h15

Paper 9
Gender and sexual issues

Chair: Marlene Matos (University of Minho, Portugal)

Women constructing meaning: The sex object positions herself as subject of her own sexuality

Ina Motoi (University of Quebec in Abiti-Témiscamingue/UQAT, Canada)


How does a woman proceed to define in herself her sexual experience: as prostitution or as sexuality? Using epistemological power to define what she lives allows her to significantly differentiate between the self and the other. At a crossroad of tensions and contradictions the woman can construct a conceptual map to orient herself in her dialogical space. She has to declare her interiority sovereign in order to construct meaning. Gathering strength through the positioning of her gender identity, the woman recognizes the diametrical tension between being a sex object and being the subject of her own sexuality. This contradictory consciousness is the basis of her methodology. These findings resulted from a research project with women prostituting themselves who engaged in a group narrative process.

Gender, identity and group intervention: A dialogist point of view. The results of a feminist workshop

Jesús Garcia-Martínez (University of Seville, Spain) & Teresa González-Uribe (National Autonomous University of Mexico, Mexico)


A workshop about self and cultural identities was developed with a sample of 6 Mexican women who were living in Spain. The intervention was based on feminist group discussion technique The most relevant aims of the workshop are: 1) To reconstruct women’s identity; 2) To empower the women ; 3) To search for new abilities and aims in women’s lives. During the workshop several matters were discussed: familiar relationships, gender identity, migration problems, cultural discordances, maltreatment and so on. A technique of content analysis was used to assess changes across workshop sessions. Contents scales were developed from psychological models to adjust the nature of conversation in group sessions. The data show significant changes in the self-perception of women. Both qualitative and statistical results are offered. Discussion is centred on the role of the group as dialogical mechanism to promote changes in self perception via changes in internal voices. The group facilitates some internal voices and inhibits other internal voices. So, external dialogue runs as a promoter of internal dialogism.

Social discourses, autobiographical narratives and identity in lesbian women

Arianna Sala & Manuel Luis de la Mata (University of Seville, Spain)
The aim of this paper is to analyse the appropriation of social discourses about lesbianism and their role in the construction of life-narratives in women with different educational background and degree of participation in political associations and the integration (inter-animation) of these discourses in autobiographical narratives. For this purpose, we employed a qualitative methodological approach. More specifically, eight lesbian women were interviewed and asked to tell their life-stories. Some of them participated in a political association for the defence of gay and lesbian people. The interview was divided in three parts: 1) Kinsey scale for self- evaluation of sexual identity; 2) Graphic of life satisfaction, and 3) autobiographic interview.

Interviews were audio-taped and transcribed. Transcriptions were analysed by using a qualitative approach. From this analysis, tree main themes and several sub-themes emerged:



  1. SELF: issues like turning point, self-defining remembering, reflecting about herself were considered.

  2. SELF AND SOCIETY: discourse of society (about homosexuality), self & gender roles, society vs. me-we, me-we vs. society…

  3. SELF AND LESBIANISM: personal acceptation, reflections on identity, transition heterosexual-homosexual, coming out, defining homosexuality…

The analysis of the three dimensions was integrated to account for the way in which different discourses and voices become interrelated in the construction of personal narratives about the self. In the analysis we try to underline the dialogical relationship between the different discourses and the relation of power between the voices that compose the personal narration.

10h15 – 11h15

Paper 10
Moral, ethical and political issues

Chair: Rachel Joffe Falmagne (Clark University, USA)



Dialogical morality:Phenomenology of moral voices

Anna Batory (Catholic University of Lublin, Poland)


Moral reflection often takes form as an internal dialogue between various moral voices. They originate from the subject, after internalization of other individuals and groups. From the early childhood we hear many moral voices, which gradually become parts of our selves and serve as internal guides.The research was focused on an investigation of the internal moral dialogues. The main purpose was to examine the realm of the dialogical morality and to explore specific moral voices. The project was based on the dialogical theory of the self and the valuation theory by Hubert Hermans. The investigation has shown that the phenomenological variety of I-positions engaged in internal moral dialogues is immense. The answers are illustrated by case studies. It is difficult to identify typical moral voices, although some of them are more common than others. The examples depict the voices of frequent occurrence, as well as unique ones like a saint patron or an unspecified imaginary figure. Frequently, the voices oscillate around a given matter and function as dialogical opposites. They represent relatively stable I-positions e.g. “I as rational” vs. “I as emotional”.

Dialogical ethics in a global society: Cultural difference and answerability

Alex Kostrogriz (Monash University, Australia)


Debates about multiculturalism are common to many late-modern societies today. Globalization has triggered a massive flow of people across state borders, challenging and changing assumptions about national identities and cultural politics. How to deal with difference without reducing it to sameness is becoming one of the main issues discussed by policy-makers, researchers and educators. This paper argues for the importance of turning to dialogical ethics before developing and implementing large-scale political strategies in managing differences. It draws on the ideas of Bakhtin and Levinas to transcend the notion of ‘caring at a distance’ that is embedded in the neo-liberal construction of moral selfhood. As an alternative, the emphasis is made on spatial proximity – on ‘face-to-face’ relations with alterity – to conceptualize the dialogical self who is both responsive to and responsible for the Other. Bakhtin’s philosophy of the act and Levinas’ ethics of responsibility are mutually enriching in thinking about the role of the dialogical self in building a pluralistic society. The paper concludes with the implications of dialogical ethics for multicultural education.

Strategic essentialism, forced displacement and survival: Epistemological and ethical implications

Hajdukowski-Ahmed Maroussia (McMaster University, Canada)


The term “strategic essentialism” (SE), coined by Gayatry Spivak (1995), is a conscious and purposive verbal replication of an essentialist discourse on identity (ex: cultural, racial or gendered stereotypes). The users of SE assume a temporary unified subject position in order to further a particular end. Such a practice has been documented among disenfranchised groups when they experience a need in situations of asymetrical power relationships (Macklin, Razack). Those who use SE perceive that they can better receive assistance from authorities whose knowledge and representation of them is often succinct and essentialized. Such is the case of asylum seekers which we shall discuss. In our globalized world, the borders of Western industrialized countries are more open to the circulation of goods than to the circulation of people who are forcibly displaced by natural or human-made disasters (UNHCR, 2005). Their identities have become intensely and dialogically iterative, but their agency has been severely curtailed. It is tempting for them to have recourse to SE (and they are often advocated to do so) in order to ensure their safety and that of their families, to simply survive. However, the use of SE has epistemological and ethical implications leading to the question: should an ethics of authenticity prevail over an ethics of care, and even an ethics of justice?
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