Deciphering Political Utopias. Unions, Female Night Work, and Gender Justice


  • Christine Morgenroth Leibniz Universität Hannover



group discussion, scenic understanding, depth hermeneutic, therapeutic group analysis, gender relations


The group discussion is a qualitative method perfectly suited for analyzing attitudes and opinions at the supra-individual level and tracing the process of how they emerge. Psychoanalytic group theories expand our understanding of group processes by adding the dimension of the unconscious: groups, too, display defense reactions and forms of repression. By adding this dimension, we can show how social groups proceed to collectively relegate important issues to the realm of the unconscious. In this way, social defense processes are reproduced in actu.

In group discussions involving female union members, the predicament of working mothers comes to the fore particularly clearly. An excerpt from a group discussion illustrates that the women seem to perceive night work as the only realistic solution to the problem of reconciling work and family. Only when we turn to a psychoanalytic hermeneutics of scenic understanding are we able to reveal a repressed conception of life looming behind the paradoxical demand: the desire to overcome the separation of productive and reproductive labor in the lives of both sexes; a desire that can only be achieved if labor unions, too, perceive gender relations as a political challenge demanding their attention.



Download data is not yet available.

Author Biography

Christine Morgenroth, Leibniz Universität Hannover

Dr. Christine MORGENROTH, professor of social psychology, Institute of Sociology and Social Psychology, Leibniz-University of Hannover, Germany and practicing psychotherapist. The thrust of my work combines several approaches to qualitative research with psychoanalytic hermeneutics, the primary emphasis being intersubjectivity in researching interpersonal defense. I have published work in the fields of work identity and the mental effects of unemployment and attachment to organizations. I am currently working on a longitudinal biographical study of adolescent drug-addicts.




How to Cite

Morgenroth, C. (2012). Deciphering Political Utopias. Unions, Female Night Work, and Gender Justice. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 13(3).