Ludwig Wittgenstein is widely considered one of the greatest and most influential philosophers of the 20th century who in his later work produced a radical and distinctive approach to philosophical analysis, which had far-reaching ramifications for research in the social and human sciences. What does Wittgenstein and Witgensteinian philosophy have to say to Social Scientists and Psychologists in the 21st century?
Wittgenstein’s impact on the social sciences can be divided into a number of phases, some of which (2 & 3) spawned distinctive research programmes:
1. Via reception of the work of the Wittgensteinian philosopher Peter Winch and his influential book The Idea of a Social Science and its Relation to Philosophy, published in the mid-20th Century.
2. The combining of Wittgensteinian insights with Ethnomethodology and Conversation Analysis (EMCA) beginning in the early 1970s and found in the work of the ‘Manchester School’ of Ethnomethodology and Conversation Analysis in the work of authors such as Wes Sharrock, Rod Watson and Bob Anderson in addition to associated figures such as Mike Lynch (Cornell) and Jeff Coulter (Boston).
3. The combining of Wittgensteinian insights with Michael Billig’s Rhetorical Analysis, Ethnomethodology and Conversation Analysis to form Discursive Psychology, initiated by Johnathan Potter, Derek Edwards and Margaret Wetherell, beginning in the 1980s at Loughborough University and being developed by others in the decades that have followed.
Run across two afternoons, this course will revisit the philosophical sources that inform a Wittgensteinian approach to questions in the social and human sciences and explore these alongside the approach to interaction found in Ethnomethodology.
Dr Phil Hutchinson