Potter (2016)

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The Language and Social Interaction Working Group (LANSI)

Advice, Descriptions, and Psychology

Dr. Jonathan Potter

Dean of the School of Communication and Information

Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey



This teaching session focuses on explicating the central features of discursive psychology, particular its focus on the constructive and situated role of psychological talk and its orientation to action. This is complemented by discussion of a paper on advice that illustrates how actions can be formed in a way that is designed to softly influence the future conduct of recipients. This study works with materials from a child helpline concerned with violence and and other problems.   


After an undergraduate degree in psychology, a masters in philosophy of science, and a PhD in sociology Jonathan Potter first taught statistics in the Psychological Laboratory at St Andrews University in Scotland. He then moved to Loughborough University, attracted by the idea of working with Michael Billig and Derek Edwards. In 1996 he was awarded a personal chair in Discourse Analysis. More recently he has combined research with academic leadership roles, being first Head of Department of Social Sciences, and then Dean of School of Social, Political and Geographical Sciences at Loughborough. Last year he moved to take up the role of Dean of Communication and Information at Rutgers, the state university of New Jersey. He is best known for the books Discourse and Social Psychology (with Margaret Wetherell) and Representing Reality. He has written widely about qualitative research, and especially limitations with qualitative interviews, and on theoretical issues at the boundary of psychology and conversation analysis.    


Data Session

Our next data session will take place on Saturday, January 20, from 1-3 pm in GDH 273B.