Fondation Maison des sciences de l’homme, Paris, France
CURAPP, Amiens, France (December 2008)
Culture & Psychology, June 2012, 18 (2)
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.