What Is Poststructuralism And How Does It Affect Psychology?

Poststructuralism

In some scientific and philosophical traditions it is proposed that reality is something objective and neutral that exists outside our minds and independently of our social activity; For this reason, it is proposed that we can access it through a set of methods that will represent it as it is (for example through scientific models).

Given this, there are currents of thought and human sciences that have made some criticisms, for example, the so-called poststructuralist current It is a controversial and constantly debated term, which has had repercussions on the way of doing human and social sciences.

Below we will see in a general way What is poststructuralism and how has it impacted psychology?

What is poststructuralism? General definition and background

Poststructuralism is a theoretical and epistemological movement (related to how knowledge is constructed) that arises mainly within the human sciences of the French tradition and that has repercussions on the way of doing philosophy, linguistics, science, art, history, psychology (in general in the human sciences) in the West .

It emerged in the second half of the 20th century, and the term “post” does not indicate the passage from one era to another but rather the appearance of new ways of doing human sciences. That is, poststructuralism makes a strong criticism of the structuralist current but without completely leaving it.

It is also a term that generates a lot of debate since the limits between structuralism and poststructuralism are not clear (just as they are not clear between modernity-postmodernity, colonialism-postcolonialism, etc.) and generally intellectuals who have been classified as poststructuralists reject being enrolled in said stream.

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At a theoretical level It originates mainly from linguistics with influences from psychoanalysis with structuralist roots ; as well as from feminist movements that question how women had been represented both in literature and in general culture.

Broadly speaking, the break that poststructuralism establishes with structuralism has to do with sense and meaning, that is, with the position that the subject acquires before language.

Two key concepts: meaning and subjectivity

Poststructuralism applied to the human sciences pays attention to meanings and the way in which a subject produces itself, especially through language (a language that is understood not to represent reality as it is, but at the same time). time builds it). That’s why, Two of the concepts that appear most in the poststructuralist current are subjectivity and meaning although many more could be mentioned.

There are times when post-structuralism is described as a way of bringing to light the hidden meaning of texts. However, it is not so much about revealing the hidden meaning, but rather about studying this meaning. as a product of representation systems (of the ways and processes we use to order and describe reality).

That is to say, it is a movement that questions the logic of representation on which the human sciences were based; because the latter is a logic from which the idea has been built that there is a reality that is neutral, as well as a series of possibilities of knowing it “objectively.”

Through how poststructuralism understands meaning is positioned as a challenge for realism that had marked the way of doing human sciences, relativizes the traditional way of knowing the world, and tries to avoid essentialism (the idea that a thing, for example a human being, is what it is due to the existence of a true essence. that can be apprehended).

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Specifically in linguistics (although this has repercussions on the way of doing science) poststructuralism is also defined as a critical practice that seeks plurality; arguing that the meaning or sense of a text is not given only by the author, but is also constructed through subjectivity, during reading, by the reader.

From there also arises the concept of intertextuality which indicates that a text of any type is a heterogeneous product, a result of many ideas and many meanings, which in turn implies a logic of subversion that makes it difficult to be defined with traditional logic and languages.

Has it been relevant to psychology?

Psychology is a scientific discipline that has been nourished by many other disciplines, which is why it is not a homogeneous science but has generated many currents and many different practices. Being a discipline that seeks to understand the processes that constitute us as human beings, in a biological, psychological and social framework, psychology has been built by different philosophical and scientific currents over time.

The poststructuralist approach transformed a part of psychology because opened the door to create new research methods, other options for understanding reality, and with this, new theories and identification models, some of them even with political repercussions. It allows us to pay attention, for example, to the relationships between identity and otherness, and to redefine concepts such as identity, subjectivity, subject, culture, among others.

To give a more concrete example, scientific practice became more heterogeneous when feminist theories related to poststructuralism proposed that social and individual reality (and science itself) are processes that have been constructed from apparently neutral experiences. , but which are actually masculine experiences and blind positions towards other experiences, such as those of women.

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Although poststructuralism escapes a single definition and its elements are constantly debated, in short we could say that it is a theoretical tool that has served to understand some processes, especially in the field of human and social sciences, which has allowed the creation of political alternatives during its study.