Narrative Psychology and Vygotsky in Dialogue : Changing Subjects book cover
1st Edition

Narrative Psychology and Vygotsky in Dialogue
Changing Subjects

ISBN 9781138551879
Published September 25, 2019 by Routledge
216 Pages

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Book Description

This book draws together two domains of psychological theory, Vygotsky’s cultural-historical theory of cognition and narrative theories of identity, to offer a way of rethinking the human subject as embodied, relational and temporal. A dialogue between these two ostensibly disparate and contested theoretical trajectories provides a new vantage point from which to explore questions of personal and political change.

In a world of deepening inequalities and increasing economic precarity, the demand for free, decolonised quality education as articulated by the South African Student Movement and in many other contexts around the world, is disrupting established institutional practices and reinvigorating possibilities for change. This context provokes new lines of hopeful thought and critical reflection on (dis)continuities across historical time, theories of (social and psychological) developmental processes and the practices of intergenerational life, particularly in the domain of education, for the making of emancipatory futures.

This is essential reading for academics and students interested in Vygotskian and narrative theory and critical psychology, as well as those interested in the politics and praxis of higher education.

Table of Contents

Series Editor Preface

Author Preface

Chapter 1 - Vygotsky’s Narrative Subject

Chapter 2 - The subject of psychology: A narrative of Vygotsky and critical psychologies

Chapter 3 - Ubuntu: reconceptualising personhood

Chapter 4 - (Mis)understandings and active ignorance

Chapter 5 - The question of potential: a Narrative of Vygotsky in action, then and now.

Chapter 6 - Educating (Our)Selves: Narratives of (un)learning and being

Chapter 7 - Histories and hope: acting, thinking and being in the present


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Jill Bradbury is Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. She teaches in the fields of narrative psychology and psychosocial childhood studies. Her research focuses on intergenerational narratives, sociohistorical theories of personhood, the transformation of higher education and the (im)possibilities of individual and social change. She is a principal investigator on the interdisciplinary research project, NEST (Narrative Enquiry for Social Transformation).


'Jill Bradbury's book makes a unique contribution to the existing literature combining the two approaches of Narrative and Vygotskian psychology that have not previously been integrated. The book also manages to combine universal themes with specifically local content at a time when academia in South Africa (and beyond) is grappling with issues of decolonization in the sphere of higher education. This book makes a singular contribution to these debates that are of interest far beyond the specifics of the local South African scene.' - Ronald Miller, Emeritus Professor, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa


'Jill Bradbury is one of the most exciting thinkers and writers in Narrative Psychology. Her conversation with Vygotsky, situated on the perch between hope and despair, writing and liberation, democracy and colonialism, rooted in and echoing from South Africa, promises to provoke a new praxis for how psychology can be of use, in contentious times, as a project for social justice. We thank you Jill for fresh air, radical possibilities, beautiful prose and intellectually incite-ful work.' - Michelle Fine, Distinguished Professor of Critical Psychology, The Graduate Center, CUNY, US


'This book is at once passionate, political and scholarly, providing much food for thought to a wide audience: critical psychologists, educators, narrative researchers, and many non-academics interested in cultural and historical ways of conceptualising the human subject and agency.  Combining critical, engaged scholarship with personal reflection and experience, Bradbury addresses what it means to be a person in today’s challenging world, exploring "the possibilities for change towards hopeful futures.' - Molly Andrews, Professor of Political Psychology, University of East London, UK


‘A beautifully written, lucid, committed, and deft weaving of Vygotskian and narrative theory. The book is a masterful recasting of standard perspectives on the articulations between personhood, subjectivity, cognition, identity and agency in our globally precarious and turbulent times. Equally significant is that its argument shows a generative openness to thinking with foundational but overlooked African epistemologies such as the work of pioneering South African phenomenologist Chabani Manganyi. A must read for researchers and students across the fields of psychology, cultural and political studies.’ - Bhekizizwe Peterson, Professor of African Literature, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa