Jonathan Potter

Jonathan Potter
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey | Rutgers · School of Communication and Information

BA, MA, DPhil

About

163
Publications
189,037
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Introduction
I work in the broad field of discourse studies, with a particular focus on the way careful analyses of interaction can be a route to understanding and reworking basic psychological questions. This approach to research is called discursive psychology. I am currently studying child protection helplines and family mealtime interaction with a concern with how actions are formed and emotion is managed. I often write on theoretical matters in social psychology and on qualitative methods.
Additional affiliations
August 2015 - present
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Position
  • Head of Faculty
August 2011 - August 2015
Loughborough University
Position
  • Head of Faculty
January 1988 - December 2011
Loughborough University

Publications

Publications (163)
Book
Full-text available
This book illustrates the ways in which familiar psychological concepts - femininity, the environment, groups, the self - are constructed in both psychological and literary discourse. It highlights the fundamentally constructive role of texts in the organization of social life.
Article
This paper overviews limitations in both the way attitude function has been conceptualized in social psychology, and in the empirical basis for the claims made. We suggest that the premise that attitudes are expressed for cognitive/motivational reasons is an untested artefact of the methodological procedures commonly used. In contrast, an investiga...
Chapter
We discuss the nature of embodied actions with regard to discursive psychology (DP) and conversation analysis. Whereas embodiment has been considered a limitation on the analytic reach of DP, investigations of multimodality have brought physical movements and environmental objects within the purview of analysis. What people feel, think, intend, tas...
Article
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Batel and Castro propose a reconciliation of social representation theory and discursive psychology. This comment highlights the continuing relevance of long‐standing critiques of social representation theory from discursive psychologists as well as their central focus on both how representations are built to appear factual and the role of represen...
Article
We focus on assessments in conversation, paying particular attention to a distinction between object-side (O-side) and subject-side (S-side) assessments. O-side assessments are predicated of an object (that it is good, awful, nice, bad, etc.), whereas S-side assessments formulate a disposition of the speaker toward that object (that they like it, l...
Article
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Work on advice has concentrated on institutional settings where there are restrictions on roles, actions and their organisation. This article focuses on advice giving in mundane settings: interactions between mothers and their young-adult daughters in a corpus of 51 telephone calls. Analysis reveals a range of designs that can be ‘advice implicativ...
Article
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Hayter and Hegarty argue that Discourse and Social Psychology (DSP) is a text sustaining late capitalism as surely as Taylorism sustained the Fordist capitalist epoch. In response, we first situate DSP in its intellectual context; second, highlight limitations in Hayter and Hegarty’s use of Harvey’s work on the history of capitalism; third, note th...
Article
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This article considers the way commonplace moral actions such as expressing disapproval and offering sympathy are managed in interaction on a child protection helpline. Although the helpline routinely engages with callers’ reports of traumatic events such as child neglect and abuse, overt moral assessments by call takers such as expressions of disa...
Chapter
This commentary identifies a range of flaws and contradictions in Parker’s critical realist position and his critique of relativism. In particular we highlight: (1) a range of basic errors in formulating the nature of relativism; (2) contradictions in the understanding and use of rhetoric; (3) problematic recruitment of the oppressed to support his...
Chapter
This chapter comments on some of the different senses of the notion of discourse in the various relevant literatures and then overviews the basic features of a coherent discourse analytic programme in Psychology. Parker’s approach is criticized for (a) its tendency to reify discourses as objects, (b) its undeveloped notion of analytic practice and...
Article
This chapter proposes that, as a method which has engaged with interaction in other contexts, conversation analysis (CA) should be used to analyze electronic interactions. The adoption of CA leads to a number of methodological pointers and this chapter reviews some of these. The authors firstly overview previous research on electronic discourse, in...
Chapter
Cognition has been dealt with in discourse research in two distinct ways. First, building on Cognitive Psychology, but typically oriented to a critical agenda, cognition is seen as an underlying substrate of entities, processes and mechanisms all of which have consequences for a person’s conduct. In this view discourse and cognition are treated as...
Chapter
In his very earliest published lecture Harvey Sacks (1992) gave an indication of how conversation analysts should treat cognition.Keywords:cognitive science;discourse analysis;interactionist language studies
Chapter
Full-text available
This chapter focuses on crying as an interactional phenomenon. It overviews traditional work on crying, highlighting its limitations, and contrasts an interactional approach illustrated with material from both mundane and institutional telephone calls. Crying on the telephone is characterised in terms of a collection of loosely associated and somet...
Article
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Social analysts find it hard to throw off the dualism of traditional psychology. Discursive psychology offers a non-dualistic approach to psychological matters that works with the displays and orientations of participants, and recognizes that psychological matters are managed immediately and subtly through the normative resources of interaction. Ja...
Chapter
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Introduction CA's Position on Mental Life Cognition, Cognitivism and Method CA as the Basis for an Alternative Psychological Program CA as a Resource for Identifying Classical Cognitive Objects CA and Psychological Method Conclusions: Conversation and Cognition
Article
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This paper considers one theme in the contemporary legacy of Potter and Wetherell's (1987) Discourse and Social Psychology. It overviews the context that led to that book and considers a series of critical responses from both experimental and critical/qualitative social psychologists. It refutes criticisms and corrects confusions. Focusing on conte...
Article
Three aspects of the development of social psychology were examined by studying changes in the British Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology. An analysis of the use of ‘justificatory statements’ indicated some decrease in consensus among social psychologists. Data suggested that social psychologists made more use of theories in the 1970s and th...
Article
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In this paper we consider a collection of conversational practices that arise when a professional is faced with extended resistance to their offered advice. Our data is comprised of telephone calls to a UK child protection helpline. The practices we identify occur repeatedly across our corpus of advice resistance sequences and involve (1) the repac...
Article
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One of the most basic topics in social psychology is the way one agent influences the behaviour of another. This paper will focus on threats, which are an intensified form of attempted behavioural influence. Despite the centrality to the project of social psychology, little attention has been paid to threats. This paper will start to rectify this o...
Article
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This paper highlights some of the issues that arise when focusing on inequality (and similar notions) as participants' concerns. It emphasises the value of understanding constructions of inequality in terms of how they are (a) oriented to action; (b) situated (sequentially, institutionally, rhetorically); and (c) constructed from discursive resourc...
Chapter
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One of the most emblematic claims of early feminist work on language was that there are systematic differences between men and women in their use of tag questions. Famously, and as part of her path-breaking work in the study of gender inequalities, Lakoff (1975) suggested that there is a ‘linguistic rule’ that women will use tag questions more than...
Article
This response to Corcoran (2010) and Abell and Walton (2010) is organized around four key issues. (1) Disciplinarity: against a focus on the standard disciplinary boundaries of social psychology, and the conventional qualitative/quantitative division, it highlights metatheoretical, theoretical, and empirical disagreement over the object of analysis...
Article
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Interactional research on advice giving has described advice as normative and asymmetric. In this paper we examine how these dimensions of advice are softened by counselors on a helpline for children and young people through the use of questions. Through what we term advice-implicative interrogatives, counselors ask clients about the relevance or a...
Article
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This article is focused on the nature of directives. It draws on Curl and Drew’s (2008) analysis of entitlement and contingency in request types and applies this to a corpus of directives that occur in UK family mealtimes involving parents and young children (three–eight-year-olds). While requests are built as contingent to varying degrees on the r...
Article
This paper focuses on the phenomenon of ‘laugh particles’ interpolated within words and their role in interaction. It starts with an overview of the phenomenon, suggesting that it is less analytically presumptive to consider ‘interpolated particles of aspiration’ (IPAs). IPAs: (a) are objects that may but often do not accompany stand alone laughter...
Article
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This paper is both an overview of the status of contemporary discursive psychology and a response to Corcoran's critical article. The first part of the paper reports on the main traditions that make up contemporary discursive psychology and how they relate to one another. Then it responds to Corcoran's claims that much of contemporary discursive ps...
Article
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Introduction In the past fifteen years researchers in conversation analysis and discursive psychology have developed novel conceptions of the relationship between organisations, practices and individual psychology (Boden and Zimmerman 1991b; Drew and Heritage 1992b; Edwards and Potter 1992; Hepburn and Wiggins 2007a). They have built an approach to...
Article
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This article has a joint focus on the way both psychological dispositions and matters of potential disability figure in interaction. The study works with a collection of more than fifty telephone calls between a young adult with a learning disability staying in a residential placement and three other members of her family. It focuses on the closing...
Article
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In this article, we focus on the activities done by the recipients of crying. In the analysis, we work with a corpus of calls from a child protection helpline in which the caller shows features of crying (14 calls, or about 10% of the total). Our focus is on two kinds of crying receipts made by child protection officers (CPOs) that are rare in nonc...
Article
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Open-ended interviews remain the default data generation technique for qualitative psychology and sociology. This commentary raises questions with Griffin's understanding of naturalistic materials and the emic/ etic distinction. It reiterates problems in the use of open-ended interviews, and repeats the case for more considered support for their us...
Chapter
This chapter is about the ways that psychology appears in, and is used in, the process of research. More particularly we will be considering the way psychological terms, orientations, constructions and displays are manifest, and practically drawn on, in market research focus groups. This study reflects a broader concern with what psychology is for...
Chapter
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This chapter will introduce the perspective of discursive psychology. It will introduce its basic theoretical and methodological features, and then flesh them out using a series of recent studies of a child protection helpline. Discursive psychology will be used to make sense of a range of features of what happens on the helpline. In turn, the anal...
Article
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This paper considers the different approaches to cognition in conversation analysis and discursive psychology. Its points are illustrated through a critical but appreciative consideration of a paper by Drew in which he uses conversation analysis to identify ‘cognitive moments’ in interaction. Problems are identified with Drew’s analysis and the con...
Article
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This article describes some key features of a discursive psychological approach. In particular, discursive psychology is analytically focused on the way psychological phenomena are practical, accountable, situated, embodied and displayed. It describes its particular version of constructionism and its distinctive approach to cognition as points of c...
Article
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Written by some of the leading figures in the fields of conversation analysis, discursive psychology and ethnomethodology, this book looks at the challenging implications of new discourse approaches to the topic of cognition. It provides a survey of cutting-edge debates about discourse and cognition as well as a range of illustrative analyses which...
Chapter
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This book addresses issues of conversation and cognition. For the first time some of the world's experts on interaction analysis have been brought together to consider the nature and role of cognition. They address the question of what part, if any, cognitive entities should play in the analysis of interaction. They develop different answers. Some...
Chapter
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Our aim in this chapter is to show how discursive psychology (DP) deals with psychological states and characteristics. We do this in several ways: by defining what DP is, by demonstrating it analytically, and by discussing various criticisms and misunderstandings of it. As for defining it, DP works in three closely related ways: Respecification and...
Article
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To introduce some features of the perspective of discursive psychology that may be useful for studying interaction in a range of medical settings. Discursive psychology considers the way psychological words and displays play a practical part in the activities that are performed in particular settings. It offers a way of understanding the role of ps...
Article
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This paper distinguishes a series of contingent and necessary problems that arise in the design, conduct, analysis and reporting of open-ended or conversational qualitative interviews in psychological research. Contingent problems in the reporting of interviews include: (1) the deletion of the interviewer; (2) the conventions for representing inter...
Article
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Psychologists recognize homophobic bullying as a serious problem for young lesbians and gay men; however, when it comes to children in lesbian and gay households the issue is not so clear cut. Some psychologists sympathetic to lesbian and gay parenting regard it as a problem, but most do not. Despite this, the inevitability and severe psychological...
Article
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Market research focus groups generate three types of data: first, representatives of commissioning companies or organizations watch the group from behind a one-way mirror; second, they receive a video of the group discussion; third, they are given a report of the focus group. This article analyses how the required data are interactionally produced...
Article
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In social psychology, evaluative expressions have traditionally been understood in terms of their relationship to, and as the expression of, underlying 'attitudes'. In contrast, discursive approaches have started to study evaluative expressions as part of varied social practices, considering what such expressions are doing rather than their relatio...
Article
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Hammersley (2003) criticizes a particular style of discourse research for developing as a distinct paradigm, yet lacking the coherence a paradigm would require. He suggests a range of problems in relation to constructionism, reflexivity and the ‘thin’ model of the human actor, and argues instead for methodological eclecticism in which discourse ana...
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This article analyzes early actions in 50 calls reporting cases of abuse to a national child protection helpline in the UK (the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children Helpline, NSPCC). It focuses on the early turns in the caller’s reason for call, in particular, a class of constructions in which the caller describes himself or h...
Article
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This paper responds to, and comments on, Coulter''s (1999) critique of discursive psychology with particular reference to how cognition is conceptualised theoretically and analytically. It first identifies a number of basic misreadings of discursive psychological writings, which distort and, at times, reverse its position on the status of cognition...
Article
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A number of ways of treating talk and textual data are identified which fall short of discourse analysis. They are: (1) under-analysis through summary; (2) under-analysis through taking sides; (3) under-analysis through over-quotation or through isolated quotation; (4) the circular identification of discourses and mental constructs; (5) false surve...
Article
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This article has been published in, Discourse Analysis Online, available at: http://www.shu.ac.uk/daol/articles/v1/n1/a1/antaki2002002-t.html. A number of ways of treating talk and textual data are identified which fall short of discourse analysis. They are: (1) under-analysis through summary; (2) under-analysis through taking sides; (3) under-anal...
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This paper addresses the broad question of how work in sociolinguistics should be related to social theory, and in particular the assumptions about cognition that can underpin that relation. A discursive psychological approach to issues of cognition is pressed and illustrated by a reworking of Stubb's review of work on language and cognition. A dis...
Article
Full-text available
A number of ways of treating talk and textual data are identified which fall short of discourse analysis. They are: (1) under-analysis through summary; (2) under-analysis through taking sides; (3) under-analysis through over-quotation or through isolated quotation; (4) the circular identification of discourses and mental constructs; (5) false surve...
Article
Full-text available
It is an unusually sunny day in summer 2000 and we are sitting round a table in the small neat coffee room used by the professionals who field calls at the London centre for the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) child protection helpline. There is a kettle, drinks machine, sink, microwave, water-cooler and a small b...
Article
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This paper analyzes question formats in a corpus of German market research focus groups. In particular, it identifies and studies the use of ‘elaborate questions’ (questions which include a range of reformulations and rewordings). The analysis highlights three functions of such questions in focus groups: (a) they are used to guide participants and...
Article
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This article addresses a paradox. On the one hand, discourse and rhetorical studies have provided evidence that evaluative talk is both variable and rhetorically organized. On the other hand, a wide range of social psychological research is produced that both presupposes and finds evidence of enduring underlying attitudes. One explanation for this...
Article
Constructionism, and specifically discursive psychology, has an enriched view of science rather than being against science. Whatever the political merits of experimentation, discursive psychologists have made specific criticisms with respect to the difficulty of capturing central features of social action and interaction using experiments. They hav...
Chapter
This chapter comments on some of the different senses of the notion of discourse in the various relevant literatures and then overviews the basic features of a coherent discourse analytic programme in Psychology. Parker’s approach is criticized for (a) its tendency to reify discourses as objects; (b) its undeveloped notion of analytic practice; (c)...
Chapter
This commentary identifies a range of flaws and contradictions in Parker’s critical realist position and his critique of relativism. In particular we highlight: (1) a range of basic errors in formulating the nature of relativism; (2) contradictions in the understanding and use of rhetoric; (3) problematic recruitment of the oppressed to support his...
Chapter
Unter Diskursiver Psychologie versteht man die Anwendung diskursanalytischer Perspektiven auf zentrale Themen und Gegenstände der Psychologie. Es handelt sich dabei nicht um eine Psychologie der Sprache, sondern um eine Herangehensweise an Sprache und Psychologie, für die sowohl der Aspekt der Handlungsorientiertheit von Diskursen als auch die in D...
Article
About the book: Bringing together many of the core classic and contemporary works in social and cultural research methods, this book gives students direct access to methodological debates and examples of practical research across the qualitative/quantitative divide. The book is designed to be used both as a collection of readings and as an introduc...
Article
Full-text available
Psychological research into eating practices has focused mainly on attitudes and behaviour towards food, and disorders of eating. Using experimental and questionnaire-based designs, these studies place an emphasis on individual consumption and cognitive appraisal, overlooking the interactive context in which food is eaten. The current article exami...
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This article criticizes current psychological work on `heterosexism', highlighting the way its operationalization tends to obscure flexible discursive practices and settle them into stable, causal attitudes within individuals. It studies extracts from a variety of sources where sexuality is made relevant (in describing someone as a `poof' or a `dyk...
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This paper speculates about what will, and should, follow cognitivism in psychology in the new century. It highlights the importance of the work of Wittgenstein, Sacks and Edwards for the development of post-cognitive psychology. Cognitivism is criticized for failing to conceptualize practices in a way that recognizes their action orientation and c...
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This rejoinder identifies a range of flaws in Schmid and Fiedler's (1999) analysis and critique of Edwards and Potter (1993), and highlights a range of unresolved problems with the 'Linguistic Category Model' of attribution. Schmid and Fiedler apply parsimony in an inappropriate manner; they confuse linguistic analysis and argumentative critique. T...
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This article compares and contrasts the way a set of fundamental issues are treated in social representations theory and discursive psychology. These are: action, representation, communication, cognition, construction, epistemology and method. In each case we indicate arguments for the discursive psychological treatment. These arguments are then de...
Article
Full-text available
This commentary identifies a range of flaws and contradictions in Parker's critical realist position and his critique of relativism. In par-ticular we highlight: (1) a range of basic errors in formulating the nature of relativism; (2) contradictions in the understanding and use of rhetoric; (3) problematic recruitment of the oppressed to support hi...
Article
Full-text available
This paper responds to the critical points raised by Morgan (1998) about Discourse and Social Psychology. She suggests that the book is organized around basic binaries (inner/outer, representation/reality, nature/culture) which reflect and reproduce logocentricism and thereby phallogocentricism, and she proposes that the phenomenon of silence is on...
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This chapter reviews the major theoretical and methodological features of discursive social psychology and illustrates the scope and nature of this approach through showing the way it can respecify the social psychology of attitudes. It reviews discourse research on attitude variability; it describes conversation analytic studies on the way evaluat...
Article
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This is an electronic version of an article published in POTTER, J., 1998. Cognition as context (whose cognition?). Research on Language and Social Interaction, 31 pp. 29 - 44. Research on Language and Social Interaction is available online at: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1207/s15327973rlsi3101_2

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