Researching In-between Subjective Experience and Reality


  • Wendy Hollway Open University
  • Lynn Froggett University of Central Lancashire



psychoanalysis, cultural analysis, psychosocietal, scene, scenic understanding, infant observation, symbolisation, societal-collective unconscious, transitional space


In this article, we draw on LORENZER's method in our analysis of a single case data extract derived from a research project generating data through the Tavistock Infant Observation tradition. The partial case analysis demonstrates our methodological approach and explores conceptual territory at the meeting point of German and British psychoanalytically-informed traditions. Our scenic composition synthesised key elements of one observation visit to the home of a young black first-time mother in London.

LORENZER's advice to the cultural analyst to explore what irritates or provokes in the scene has something in common with the way that observers in the infant observation tradition use their emotional responses and process their experience. The aim is to provide access to what WINNICOTT described as an intermediate area of experience and LORENZER considered "in-between". We explore this area through two provocations in our scenic composition. Using these data examples we ask: is it possible to conceptualise collective, societal-cultural unconscious processes (LORENZER's gesellschaftlich-kollektives Unbewußtes, 1986) within this intermediate area? Specifically, how is racial and class difference present in the scene? How can it be located through scenic understanding of research data? And why does it matter?



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Author Biographies

Wendy Hollway, Open University

Wendy HOLLWAY is Emeritus Professor in psychology at the Open University. She is a social and qualitative psychologist with a particular interest in psychoanalytic epistemology and its application to empirical research methodology. With Tony JEFFERSON, she co-authored "Doing Qualitative Research Differently: Free Association, Narrative and the Interview Method", which explored the implications of positing a "defended subject" for interview research (2nd edition, 2012). Her recent and current writing documents the implications of British post-Kleinian psychoanalysis for data generation, data analysis, writing and research ethics.

Lynn Froggett, University of Central Lancashire

Lynn FROGGETT is Director of a well established team at the University of Central Lancashire, which undertakes psychosocial/psychosocietal research in the human services, youth justice system and cultural sector. A major interest is the development of psychoanalytically informed social scientific research methods, with a strong emphasis on the use of both visual and text based methods to research the socially engaged arts. She is also Visiting Professor, on an ongoing basis at the School of Health, University of Stavanger, Norway, and episodically at the Centre for Social Enterprise and School of Lifelong Learning at the University of Roskilde, Denmark.




How to Cite

Hollway, W., & Froggett, L. (2012). Researching In-between Subjective Experience and Reality. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 13(3).