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For a Sociology of Defences Against Emotions at School: Work Discussion Groups as an Action-Research Method

TitleFor a Sociology of Defences Against Emotions at School: Work Discussion Groups as an Action-Research Method
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2023
AuthorsMorciano D, Polito A
Secondary TitleItalian Journal of Sociology of Education
Date Published02/2023
PublisherPadova University Press
Place PublishedPadova, IT
ISSN Number2035-4983
Keywordspandemic impact, professional habitus, socio-emotional skills, Teaching practices

The importance of bringing to light the cultural structures that shape professional practices can be found in research that draws on critical sociological perspectives. For example, Bourdieu’s concept of habitus has been adopted to uncover structured and structuring dispositions that influence educational work below the level of consciousness. In addition, sociologists belonging to the tradition of Institutional Analysis have focused on latent institutional factors influencing the life of organizations and the work of their members. The purpose of this article is to explore possible cross-disciplinary developments between psychoanalytic and sociological theories by drawing on the practice of Work Discussion Groups (WDGs) oriented by the psychoanalytic theory of social defences. Applied to the teaching practice, WDGs help teachers to critically reflect on social defences at work, i.e. subjective escape routes allowing to avoid emotions in a work situation, in particular when teachers perceive such emotions as an immediate threat to their well-being. The article discusses the potential utility of WDGs as an action-research approach for possible future research on the impact of structural-cultural factors on teaching practices, particularly given the long-term implications of the pandemic for schools.