The Creative Dimension of Lay Thinking in the Case of the Representation of Democracy for Greek Youth

Thalia Magioglou
Fondation Maison des sciences de l’homme, Paris, France
CURAPP, Amiens, France (December 2008)

Culture & Psychology, June 2012, 18 (2)

doi: 10.1177/1354067X08096510

Abstract

This article intends to make a contribution to the study of lay thinking on democracy and proposes a theoretical framework based on the notion of the `argumentative pole’ that I have developed in my Ph.D. dissertation (Magioglou, 2005) and will be further presented in a series of articles. It focuses on the dialogical and creative dimension of lay thinking, based in a question—answer style. Argumentative poles are a number of open questions, such as `what is good?’, or what is democracy?’, `who should act?’ and `how?’, that attract different and, at times, opposing answers. The answers present a dynamic tension between an organized and an ambivalent dimension. In this article, the presentation is focused on the contradictory and ambivalent dimension of lay thinking and draws, from a theoretical point of view, on perspectives in social and cultural psychology (Bruner, 1986; Marková, 2003; Moscovici, 1976; Valsiner & Van der Veer, 2000) that attend to language and social and cultural context. This contradictory element is related to the creative character of lay thinking as a form of social thinking: bringing together ideas that do not match according to logic or ideology, which allows new combinations and new representations of democracy to appear. I present data from the narrative analysis because it led to the notion of the `argumentative pole’. The logic of the presentation is theoretical and does not follow a linear demonstrative style. It is typical of qualitative research (Flick, 2002), where the results of the data analysis inspire a `grounded’ theory that fits the research questions (Strauss, 1987).

Key Words: ambivalent thinking, argumentative pole, democracy, dialogical epistemology, lay thinking, meaning making, societal creativity.

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L’entretien non directif comme modèle générique d’interactions

Thalia Magioglou
Centre de Recherches en Psychologie, Université de Bretagne occidentale, Brest France.

Cahiers Internationaux de Psychologie Sociale, 2008/2 (Numéro 78)

Abstract

L’article porte sur l’utilisation de l’entretien non directif pour la recherche à partir d’une perspective épistémologique dialogique (Moscovici, 1984 ; Markova, 2003 ; Bakhtin, 1981). L’entretien non directif est envisagé comme un modèle générique d’interactions, qui permet la mise en scène par l’interviewé des « dialogues » multiples et des discours sociaux auxquels il participe en tant qu’acteur ou récepteur. L’interviewé projette sur l’interviewer divers rôles, par exemple, ceux de ses interlocuteurs habituels. Il s’investit aussi des « soi multiples » en personnifiant des acteurs individuels et collectifs qui participent au débat social sur l’objet de l’étude. Nous soutenons que le manque de neutralité et l’aspect « artificiel » de l’entretien, qui ont été critiqués (Bourdieu, Chamboredon et Passeron, 1983), constituent en effet, une qualité pour la recherche. L’entretien non directif ne sert pas à révéler « la » vérité de l’interviewé sur un objet donné, par un interviewer neutre et objectif, mais permet à la pensée du sens commun de se construire dans sa complexité.

Mots clés : entretien non directif, approche dialogique, sens commun, interaction sociale, représentations sociales.

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Social Representations of Democracy; Ideal versus Reality: A qualitative study with young people in Greece

Thalia Magioglou

Fondation Maison des sciences de l’homme, Paris, France

Hellenic Observatory, 1st Symposium, London School of Economics, 2003.

Abstract

Democracy is a major issue in the contemporary world. The collapse of the communist world and the devaluation of communist ideology, the welfare state crisis in Western democracies and the important role of globalization have an effect on the way people think about democracy. In what way do citizens experience these transformations? Abstention from elections and action through humanitarian associations are examples of a new kind of citizen mobilization. More precisely, the present project aims to investigate the following:

  • The social construction of the meaning of democracy: how do people who live in a system considered to be democratic understand democracy? What does it mean to them?
  • The ideal and the representation of the reality of democracy. Which is the political system that young people wish for, and is it different from the one they live in? Do they have an ideal of democracy that is opposed to the one that they experience?
  • The limits of what they consider as possible in the real world. Is democracy, or their ideal political system possible or impossible according to them? If the ideal democracy is seen as impossible, there is no action in order to make it happen.

Democracy has a particular importance for Greek people; it is considered to be an element that somehow belongs to the Greek culture. From early education, the importance of ancient Greece and the fact that democracy was created in Athens is emphasized repeatedly, more so than other historical periods (see Fragoudaki and Dragonas, 1997). Representative democracy as a political system was introduced in Greece very soon after national independence from the Ottoman Empire, by the beginnings of the 20th century. Democratic government of the country has since been interrupted by the civil war that followed the end of World War II, and more recently by the military junta of 1967-1974. These are both significant elements in the construction of social memory, and should weigh heavily on the social representation of democracy.

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The Theory of Enablement and Social Representations as Contributions to “Societal” Political Psychology

Some Thoughts on Valsiner (2003) and Wagner (2003)

Thalia Magioglou

Fondation Maison des sciences de l’homme, Paris, France

Papers on Social Representations, Volume 12, p. 11.1-11.3 (2003)

Abstract

Social Representation’s theory is a social psychological theory; Valsiner’s (2003) theory is a contribution from the perspective of cultural and developmental psychology that insists on the dynamic aspect of social representations. My main interest when I read both Jaan Valsiner’s (2003) “theory of enablement” and W. Wagner’s (2003) comment, was in their possible contribution to a “societal” political psychology, with an approach of the political that: 1. goes beyond the institutional dimension, and focuses on the ways individuals, groups and collectivities construct/ deal with conflicts and decide about their common future 2. pays particular attention to the analysis of the everyday, ‘ordinary’ citizens and common sense thinking.

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EPoPs

EPoPS (European Political Psychology) est un centre dans le domaine de la Psychologie Politique qui privilégie une approche sociétale et culturelle de la psychologie qui a été fondé en 2003. Basé à la Fondation Maison des Sciences de l’Homme (FMSH) à Paris (France), EPoPs a des partenaires académiques internationaux. Ce centre se présente comme un terrain de rencontre interdisciplinaire entre, principalement, les sciences politiques, la psychologie sociale, l’anthropologie sociale, l’histoire, la linguistique et la sociologie. Au-delà de ce point de départ ouvert aux diverses sensibilités de recherche, l’objectif scientifique de EPoPs est de développer une démarche transdisciplinaire cohérente. Dans cette perspective, la psychologie politique n’est pas à considérer de manière institutionnelle comme une sous discipline des sciences politiques ou de psychologie mais comme une nouvelle approche des sciences sociales. Elle a plutôt une vocation programmatique en termes de projets de recherche et pourrait donc progressivement former des concepts qui lui seraient propres ainsi que des innovations méthodologiques. Une attention particulièrement sera accordée aux analyses du quotidien, des citoyens ordinaires et du sens commun relatives aux enjeux, aux institutions et aux organisations politiques. EPoPs veut aussi être en contact avec la vie sociale, ses enjeux et ses controverses. L’objectif est d’avoir des contacts réguliers avec tous types d’acteurs (associations, fondations, administrations…) intéressés par les travaux menés au sein d’EPoPs.