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The Language of Interests: The Contribution of Discursive Psychology

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Andrea Whittle, Professor Frank Mueller



In this article we outline the contribution of the field of Discursive Psychology (DP) for the understanding of interests in organization studies. We discuss the limitations of viewing interests and motives as cognitive states, essential drivers of action and explanatory variables. Following DP, we propose to view interests and motives as a key component of meaningful social practice, making interests and motives a topic for analysis rather than resource for explanation. DP offers a distinct approach to analyzing the accounts that people make about their interests in a particular state of affairs, their stake in a particular situation, or their motive in pursuing a particular course of action. To illustrate our argument, we analyze two data extracts from a qualitative study of a UK public-private partnership. By illustrating the way in which interests are dealt with in different interactional situations, we seek to contribute by outlining a more sophisticated and insightful way of understanding interests within organization studies.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Whittle A, Mueller F

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Human Relations

Year: 2011

Volume: 64

Issue: 3

Pages: 415-435

Print publication date: 17/11/2010

Date deposited: 24/04/2015

ISSN (print): 0018-7267

ISSN (electronic): 1741-282X

Publisher: Sage Publications Ltd.


DOI: 10.1177/0018726710386395


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