Volume 2   Number 1      Fall 2007

From Dialogical Practices to Polyphonic Thought?
Developmental Inquiry and Where to Look for It
Michael Bamberg
Clark University, USA
Barbara Zielke
Technische Universität Chemnitz, Germany
pp. 223-242   (pdf)
ABSTRACT. In this contribution we start with a critical reading of assumptions that have led to the postulation of a dialogical and polyphonic self. We critically review the empirical basis for these assumptions as resulting from therapeutically informed techniques according to which clients/participants are led to engage in particular modes of self-reflection and conclude that the positions, valuations, and their connections to affect are predominantly constructs designed for the purpose to assist in ‘self-reflection’—with the aim to intervene and change the subject’s self positions. This leads to the questions what actually is to be ‘acquired’ and where to look for empirical evidence. We will argue that it is not necessary to anchor dialogicality and positioning in the self; that is, we do not need to equip the self with a priori positions and dialogicality. Instead, we suggest that situated, actual conversations may result in positions and that speakers taking these positions subsequently can be described as dialogical and polyphonous—but that the occasionings of positions best serve as the actual sites for developmental inquiry into their genesis—in contrast to a person’s interiority.
Keywords: dialogue, positioning, narrative identity, developmental inquiry