Historical Social Research

Henning Salling Olesen & Kirsten Weber: Socialization, Language, and Scenic Understanding. Alfred Lorenzer's Contribution to a Psycho-Societal Methodology [Abstract]

The article is a guided tour to Alfred Lorenzer's proposal for an "in-depth hermeneutic" cultural analysis methodology which was launched in an environment with an almost complete split between social sciences and psychology/psychoanalysis. It presents the background in his materialist socialization theory, which combines a social reinterpretation of the core insights in classical psychoanalysis – the unconscious, the drives – with a theory of language acquisition. His methodology is based on a transformation of the "scenic understanding" from a clinical to a text interpretation, which seeks to understand collective unconscious meaning in text, and is presented with an illustration of the interpretation procedure from social research. Then follows a brief systematic account of key concepts and ideas – interaction forms, engrams, experience, symbolization, language game, utopian imagination – with an outlook to the social theory connections to the Frankfurt School. The practical interpretation procedure in a Lorenzer-based psycho-societal research is briefly summarized, emphasizing the role of the researcher subjects in discovering socially unconscious meaning in social interaction. Finally an outlook to contemporary epistemological issues is given. Lorenzer's approach to theorize and research the subject as a socially produced entity appears as a psycho-societal alternative to mainstream social constructivism.