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Affect, practice and contingency: critical discursive psychology and Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick

  • Maree MartinussenEmail author
  • Margaret Wetherell
Original Article


This article intersperses Sedgwick’s analysis of paranoid theory and critical discursive psychology, focusing in particular on tools for researching affect and emotion. It is suggested that there are some surprising convergences between Sedgwick’s conclusions about reparative ways of analysing and the emphases in critical discursive psychology. Both stress contingency and craft, the uncertain trajectories of discourses, and what Sedgwick describes as ‘the middle ranges of agency’. Key differences lie in the theory of affect adopted. Critical discursive psychology remains more committed to analyses of the ideological. A further aim of this article is to illustrate the main concerns of discursive research on affective practice. To this end, an extract from a focus group exchange concerning women’s friendships and the experience of being rejected by a friend is explored, highlighting the patterning of everyday meaning making imbued with emotion, strategic identity work, and the ways in which participants mobilise psy techniques and vocabularies to hopeful ends.


Affect Sedgwick Critical discursive psychology Psychosocial methods The psy-complex 



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© Springer Nature Limited 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of PsychologyUniversity of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand

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