Giambonini, C: The Jungian subject in psychosocial research: which contribution can Jung offer to investigate psychosocial phenomena?


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In contemporary psychosocial literature a fundamental debate concerns the role of the reflexive subject in moving away from the unitary rational subject of traditional cognitive psychology. Depth psychology is often introduced in psychosocial literature to theorise a reflexive subject that is not fully rational, but complex, anxious, defended and who searches for meaning when faced with social issues such as crime, financial insecurity or political conflict. Through a review of the current debates concerning the reflexive subject and its fundamental features in qualitative psychosocial research, this presentation argues for the contribution of a Jungian subject in psychosocial enquiries by discussing the critical appraisal of Jung’s Flying saucers: a modern myth of things seen in the skies by Serge Moscovici (1961). The purpose of such discussion is twofold. It helps reclaim the position of Jung’s psychology in a field of academic research where it has often been overlooked and it addresses some problematic theoretical assumptions of Jungian psychology, which reduce its applicability in contemporary primary research. The latter comprise the well-known equivalence between inner collective unconscious and outer collective representations, which had first been postulated by Ira Progoff in 1953 and survives today in applications of Jungian psychology to social phenomena, which neglect the contribution of social interaction to socially construct collective representations. Examples to illustrate the interpretive contribution of Jung’s psychology to a psychosocial enquiry will be drawn from a primary research project that investigates the meaning of sexting for teenagers in Switzerland, where numerous ideological discourses contrast with the shared representations that teenagers themselves develop to make sense of their virtual interactions, often resulting in a gender dynamic that is particularly harmful for girls.

Presenter Bio:

Camilla Giambonini, Ph.D., is a psychologist, currently completing a Ph.D. in Jungian and post Jungian studies at the University of Essex, UK. I have lectured extensively in social sciences on subjects ranging from psychosocial perspectives, Jungian and post Jungian studies, criminology, forensic psychology and ethics. Previously, I worked as probation officer, particularly with migrant populations and sex offenders. My research focuses on psychosocial perspectives based on depth psychology, with particular interest in adolescence, sexuality and gender. I am a member of the Board of Directors of the International Association for Jungian Studies and a trainee psychodynamic psychotherapist at the Society of Analytical Psychology.

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

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