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Understanding Affective Dynamics in Social Research

Starts: 3 July 2009
Ends:  4 July 2009

Project Image - Networking Cables

Understanding Affective Dynamics in the 

Researching Affect and  Affective 

Communication Seminar Series


Understanding Affective Dynamics in Social Research

3rd & 4th July 2009 - City University, London


The idea of a dynamic is different from a network or a linear form of relationality in that it assumes a complex affective flow, force or charge between people in relation. This approach has been used for many years by psychoanalysts, particularly in the British tradition. In this session we invited two psychoanalysts who work in this way to work with us on observational methods in family and institutional settings, Dr Cathy Urwin from the Tavistock Clinic and Professor Bob Hinshelwood from Essex University. How do clinicians work with holistic and associative dynamics? Psychoanalysis classically used an associative model but more recent work has used the notion of the matrix as basic metaphor for understandings groups and group dynamics as well as the idea of a relational matrix. This means that clinicians are attempting to understand how affect moves and flows both in time (association) and in relational space, using concepts such as projection and introjection. Within this tradition, clinicians have developed methods of observing which stress embodied atunement to affective dynamics. Such observational methods are used in training child and adult psychotherapists, who pay attention to family and organisational dynamics. The aim of this section was to explore the clinically developed methods of observation taught to clinicians and those working psychodynamically in organisations to see if those methods can be of use to social researchers. In addition, some anthropologists have also used methods of observation derived from this tradition. In particular, George Devereux in the 1960s developed a mode of fieldwork using countertransference, which is a method of taking the researcher’s feelings and experiences as data. Countertransference information is also central to the observational techniques taught to clinicians. Cathy Urwin uses what is termed ‘infant observation’ and Bob Hinshelwood, has written about the use of observational techniques within psychiatric training. In addition, we will involve the social psychologist Alain Giami from Paris who works in the Devereux anthropological tradition. Hinshelwood will also discuss the development of the psychodynamic study of groups and its usefulness for social research. This workshop involved hands-on methodological work.



- Professor Alain Giami, University of Paris is a French researcher in social sciences. He holds a Ph.D. in psychology obtained in 1978 from the University of Paris 7, he is a researcher at the National Institute of Health and Medical Research since 1987 and currently Director of Research at INSERM (U 822) .

He works on various psychological, sociological and historical related to sexuality: sexuality disability, sexual education, contraception and sterilization, sexual behavior in the general population, AIDS prevention, sexual dysfunction and treatment of impotence. He participated in the ACSF survey (Analysis of sexual behavior in France, 1993) and is currently developing qualitative studies on the subjective experience of sexuality and a research program on sexology in Europe and Latin America, mainly Brazil .

He works on the medicalization of sexuality: a history of medical ideas about sexuality, attitudes of doctors and nurses about sex, profession of sexology, the treatment of infertility and consequences of health states on sexual.

  • Giami, A., Schiltz et M.-A. Giami, A., and M.-A. Schiltz (éd.), The Experience of sexuality in young adults: between wandering and conjugal, Paris, Editions INSERM, 2004.
  • Giami, A., Humbert, C. Giami, A., Humbert, C. et Laval, D., L'ange et la Bête : The Angel and the Beast: Representations of the sexuality of mentally disabled parents and educators, Paris, editions of CTNERHI, 2001 (republication of the book published in 1983) [translated into Portuguese in Brazil 2004].
  • Giami A., et Leridon, H. Giami A. and Leridon, H. (éd.), Issues in sterilization, Paris, Editions INSERM-INED, 2000.
  • Giami, A. Giami, A. et Pietri, L. and Pietri, L. (éd.), The treatment of impotence, Paris, French Documentation, 1999.
  • Bajos, N., Bozon, M., Ferrand, A., Giami, A. Bajos N., Bozon M., Ferrand, A., Giami, A. et Spira, A. and Spira, A. (éd.), , Sexuality in the Time of AIDS, Paris, PUF, 1998.
  • Giami, A., Veil, C. Giami, A., Veil, C. et le Groupe RITS, Representations and pipes, and changes constantly, Paris, Editions INSERM, 1994, 265 p. [traduit en portugais au Brésil en 1997]. [Translated into Portuguese in Brazil in 1997].

- Professor Robert Hinshelwood, is emeritus professor of Psychoanalysis at the University of Essex

- Dr Cathy Urwin, is a Research Fellow and Consultant Child Psychotherapist at the Tavistock Clinic, London



Professor Alain Giami - 03/07/09 from Valerie Walkerdine on Vimeo.


Dr Cathy Urwin - 03/07/09 from Valerie Walkerdine on Vimeo.


Professor Robert Hinshelwood - 03/07/09 from Valerie Walkerdine on Vimeo.





Name: Professor Valerie Walkerdine

Other information

Open To: Invitation Only