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


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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