How to study experience

2014-06-30T12:54:28Z (GMT) by Jonathan Potter
Social analysts find it hard to throw off the dualism of traditional psychology. Discursive psychology offers a non-dualistic approach to psychological matters that works with the displays and orientations of participants, and recognizes that psychological matters are managed immediately and subtly through the normative resources of interaction. James Cresswell attempts to provide an alternative account of ‘experience’; drawing on the writing of Bakhtin, he offers a kind of socialized dualism. His account is illustrated by analysing talk from an open-ended interview. The current article (a) offers an alternative analysis of that talk highlighting the operation of highly conventional repair sequences; (b) questions Cresswell’s inferences from the interviewee’s talk to their underlying ‘experiences’; (c) illustrates how matters that might classically be considered as ‘experiential’ can be handled from a non-dualistic interactional perspective, using an example from a research programme on crying and upset; and (d) offers some general principles for the study of ‘experience’.