Daily Archives: February 7, 2010

John Terry, the England captaincy and subject positions

The recent scandal and dismissal of John Terry as England team captain provides an interesting example of the psychological theory of discourse and subject positions (Edley, 2001; Holloway, 1984)). Put simply, discourses (all the utterances around a particular topic) both produce and subject people (also by themselves and others) to specific discursive positions. Therefore, the way people experience the world and themselves is in part a by-product of discourse. For example, when Terry took up the position of England captain, he will not have encountered the discourse of the England captaincy pre-formed. Instead he will have been re-constituted as the ‘subject’ of the England captain in the moment of its consumption. In more familiar terms, the moment that Terry became the England captain, he will have been discursively located with a particular identity (Hall, 1988). The identity of the England football team captain presumably carries with it certain attributes e.g. good team leader, sound role model, respectability, monogamy etc. The point I am making is that, the media allegations of his affair with Vanessa Perroncel located Terry in a ‘troubled subject position’ (Wetherell, 1998). That is, the allegations implied he occupied a subject position of a discourse other than that of the England team captain. Unfortunately for Terry, occupying a troubled subject has resulted in Fabio Capello replacing Terry as England team captain with Rio Ferdinand.

Grazie, Signor Capello: After days of dithering by the FA, it takes an Italian family man just 10 minutes to sack captain who shamed England

Negotiating Hegemonic Masculinity: Imaginary Positions and Psycho-Discursive Practices

Masculinities in Theory

Chapter 41: The Psychology of Men and Masculinity in The Wiley-Blackwell Handbook of Family Psychology

When Perspective Taking Counts

A BBC news correspondent wrote a piece about living in Paris. The theme focused on equality between service providers and their patrons–at times leaving the reader aghast.  For example the writer tells of taxi drivers ignoring her because of the inconvenience of carrying crutches because of a broken foot. And when the patron asked the taxi driver for accommodation the taxi sped away. Drawing a sharp contrast the correspondent notes that one would not find that type of service in London, or the U.S.

Yet before the reader gets a chance to make dispositional attributions about the service workers the writer introduces some perspective. The writer introduces the idea that service workers are asserting themselves and want to be treated as equals. Had the readers been left with their first impression, Gill and Andreychik (2009) note their minds would have been made up, perhaps making a mental note that the service workers in Paris are not service oriented. However, attributing the behavior to the workers wanting equality brings another perspective, which Gill and Andreychik (2009) would argue to be pro-social.  Perspective taking, the researchers argue, allows people to understand the reason for other people’s behaviors and reduces bias toward other groups.

Read more: “In Paris, the customer is not always right”

Gill, M.J. & Andreychik, M, R. (2009). Getting Emotional About Explanations: Social Explanations and Social Explanatory Styles as Bases of Prosocial Emotions and Intergroup Attitudes.