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The importance of relational thinking in the practice of psycho-social research: ontology, epistemology, methodology and ethics

By Wendy Hollway


The object relations and relational psychoanalytic traditions can have a profound effect on the practices of social science research and, in the UK, this is taking place largely in the tradition that has come to be called ‘psycho-social’. My own research practice has been moving in this direction for some time and it has become evident to me that the use of psychoanalytic concepts that derive from the object relations and relational traditions have radical effects on every aspect of research. By every aspect, I refer first to the substantive analysis of phenomena that have social and psychological aspects (which surely includes most phenomena of interest to social science). I also refer to the trio of principles informing research that I refer to in the title of this chapter as ontology (how the person as subject of research is theorised), epistemology (how the status of the knowledge generation process is understood) and methodology (how these together inform how the researcher goes about finding out). Not in the title, but also implicated, is the subject of research ethics. After an outline of the project that I use as an illustration, subsequent sections of this chapter deal with ontology, epistemology, methodology and research ethics

Publisher: Karnac
Year: 2008
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Provided by: Open Research Online
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