SIG In Critical and Poststructural Qualitative Psychology

Day in Qualitative Psychology

Special Interest Group in Critical and Poststructural Psychologies

Call for Abstracts


Opening conference at the 12th International Congress on Qualitative Inquiry

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Wednesday, May 17th, 2017


The Day in Qualitative Psychology

The Day in Qualitative Psychology is the opening meeting of the Special Interest Group (SIG) in Critical and Poststructural Psychology at the International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry. The goal of the SIG is to promote, develop, and celebrate creative qualitative inquiry in critical and poststructural psychology, with special attention to issues of social justice and disparity.

Keynote Talk

 “Thinking Critically About Critical Thinking: Whose Thinking, Whose Benefits?”

Prof. Hank Stam (Professor of psychology at University of Calgary)

Abstract: If we cannot demonstrate in a tractable way that after having spent four years of study at a postsecondary institution you are a more sophisticated critical thinker then when you came in, something’s really wrong”  -Senior Administrator, University of Calgary

Critical thinking is an aspirational goal for most post-secondary institutions and one of, if not the, most common reason given for obtaining an advanced degree.  But the discourse of “critical thinking” is much less defined than colleges and universities let on.  Neither students nor faculty have a clear sense of what the phrase refers to, nor are there clear guidelines about what achieving critical thinking might in fact mean. Faculty and administrators in our research rarely agree on just what critical thinking consists in. When we spoke with students in Canada, South Africa, China or New Zealand multiple versions of critical thinking emerged in their talk.

The question then is what does the rhetoric of critical thinking achieve?  In an age of rapidly altering content, where yesterday’s science is already passé, and one in which all “information” is presumed readily available, colleges and universities plead the case that they are passing along certain trans-content, overarching skills that are unique to the educational experiences of their charges. What students make of this is rather different, indicating that “critical thinking” can be treated as a substitute for deep knowledge. Hence the neoliberal university is producing graduates whose commitment to knowledge is weak but who individualize knowledge consumption and production behind a veil of “critical thinking.

Wednesday will also host our new event, the Collaborative Research Initiative.  The aim of this session is to support dialogue and collaborative research between members of the Psychology SIG across national, international, professional & methodological divides.  Individuals interested in leading a new research project (Research Initiators) will have five minutes each to share key points and goals of their project with attendees.  Attendees will then meet with presenters in small groups for 45 minutes, deciding which project, if any, they want to contribute.  Our hope is that research initiators and their collaborators will then present (a) a research proposal the following year, and (b) preliminary results from their study the year after that.

Over the following days, the SIG will continue with panel presentations on different theoretical perspectives for qualitative inquiry in psychology. We invite researchers, practitioners, scholars, students and all others within subfields of psychology to join us at this event and to engage in vibrant and thought-provoking conversations about innovative and non-conventional (post-) qualitative methodologies and experiences that may be most useful in the field of psychology. Please come and share your work, thoughts, and dreams about qualitative psychology, and how to build psychological research as a novel, engaged, and non-essentialist practice.

Critical & Poststructural inquiry

We see poststructural inquiries as moving away from attempts to provide realistic, universal, and fixed representations and from referents and answers that are not situated in historical, political, and cultural positions. In underscoring the close link between knowledge and power, and the (im)possibilities of representation, poststructural forms of inquiry explore, participate in, and deconstruct experiences and meanings as part of discursive frames, linguistic practices, and relational realities. Knowledges become non-linear, fluid, and liminal between fields and disciplines, and outside of them. Rather than finding finite answers, inquiries open up possibilities, questions, and multiplicity, with an eye toward issues and constructions of social justice, inequality, and emancipation.

Aware of the political and agentic situatedness of every form of inquiry, critical researchers seek to achieve equality and/or foster resistance, usually through collaborative and mutual approaches to an identified social issue and the knowledge/practice that may be developed or performed for its amelioration. Research is transformed into a diffractive and political practice that contributes to the empowerment of participants and to their resistance against institutionalized and hierarchical knowledge.

Abstract Submission & Deadline is December 1st, 2016

Collaborative Research Initiative (Wednesday, May 17th)

Interested Research Initiators must submit a 500 word proposal regarding a research project they would like to put forward for this initiative. This proposal should include a brief professional bio and description of the project. These proposals will be reviewed by members of the SIG Committee for suitability/feasibility, with further information of clarification requested.

Individual Papers and Panels (Friday & Saturday, May 19 & 20, 2017).

Submissions for individual papers are limited to 150 word abstract. Panel submissions are comprised of at least four (4) but not more than five (5) papers, each paper with full abstract (150 words each) and author information. Panels are guaranteed an 80-minute slot (individual paper presentations are expected to run 12-15 minutes). Within each panel, we recommend allowing a generous time to Questions & Answers.  The SIG Committee will organize individual papers into panels.

Although we encourage work with critical, poststructural, or social justice focus, all presentations related to qualitative psychology will be valued. We also welcome unconventional forms of communication, representation, and audience involvement.

All submissions must be processed through the link:

Be sure to indicate:

  • that your presentation is part of the SIG in Qualitative Psychology
  • individual paper, panel or research initiator (for the later, submit as an individual paper, but specify research initiator in the abstract).

Conference organizers:

SIG consultants: