Callaghan, J. (2010) All about me? Professional identities, whiteness and reflexivity. Paper presented to: British Psychological Society Psychology of Women Section (POWS) Annual Conference 2010, Windsor, England, 14-16 July 2010.
This paper provides a reflexive account of aspects of my PhD work, which involved an exploration of the accounts of women in professional training as psychologists in South Africa. The thesis was concerned with the construction of professional identities, and was particularly concerned with tracing intersections of race, class and gender in women’s talk about their professional training. As part of this work, I looked at interactions within the focus group interviews that specifically deal with and negotiate raced, classed and gendered identities, and considered how these interactions both reproduce dominant racialised and gendered discourses, and also how they produce particular constructions of professionalism that entrench particular kinds of racial privilege in psychology. As I worked towards the conclusion of this work, I became puzzled and troubled by my own interventions in these interactions, particularly the degree to which I appear to be drawing heavily on my own (largely therapeutised) fantasies about the interaction, race and racism. Further, it was pointed out to me on several occasions as I analysed the interviews that I was ‘hard’ on white respondents, an issue that might reflect my own discomfort with writing this thesis as a white woman, and my sense of dis-ease with the epistemic privilege that being an academic has brought me. In this paper, I explore how resistance to this kind of potential solipsism was achieved, at least in part, by sustaining a feminist engagement with the personal / political nexus, throughout the dissertation, and applying it, to my analytic and reflexive work
Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Professional identity, psychology, education, racial privilege, whiteness, identities, reflexivity, focus groups