why 'psycho-social'

People often ask me what “psychosocial” means.

It’s hard to define because it’s about the inseparable relations between psychology and our social contexts; politics and subjectivity.  It’s systems theory, applied to psychological as well as social, ecological, political domains. And the same time, psycho-social thinking and research is applied, pragmatic and potent.

I’ll share a quote by Professor Paul Hoggett, one of the foremost psychosocial researchers (based in the UK), a clinician and renowned political scholar and researcher, scarcely cited in the States — and yet author of several compelling and totally relevant books, studies and papers.

“A psycho-social approach links society, structure and affect in a way that sociology, psychology and social psychology have been largely unable to do. Structure and affect, the social and the psyche are inseparable in terms of the explanation of social phenomena. This calls for a huge change in the way we think about research methods – how we know and how we can come to know about the world. There is thus an emphasis on the psychodynamic, the way in which the internal and external worlds are mediated by the group and individual and connect in ways which enable us to explain, make sense of, think about and exist in the world.”

1 Comment

  1. Govinda Dickman

    I couldn’t agree more. In fact, I would go further, and suggest that it is not merely the inseparability of the psychological and the social which should be implicit in our theory/research paradigms: corporeal sentience consists in the autopoetic loop between mind, BODY and space, and it seems crucial to acknowledge this. Minds are permeable, malleable and ecological precisely because they inhere in bodies that are permeable, malleable, and ecological… A clear understanding of the somatechnical nature of both human culture and “human nature” should therefore inform our work.

    Keep up the good work, Renee!


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