Capdevila, R. and Lazard, L. (2009) A victim of coercion? Or maybe not. Paper presented to: British Psychological Society Psychology of Women Section (POWS) Annual Conference, Windsor, England, 15-19 May 2009.
The concept of coercion in psychology is a troubled, and one might argue orphaned, one. In the standard psychology textbook, it is usually addressed through 'friendlier' concepts such as persuasion and compliance. It has lately received much attention in its adjectival form, coercive psychology, in relation to the ethical debates in the APA. It can be argued that, one of the implications of the practice of coercion is that it produces a victim. This paper focuses on the construct of victim within psychological discourses of coercion. Of particular concern is how victimhood becomes embedded within neo-liberal, gendered versions of the agentic subject. In tracing a path though current debates around coercion, this paper explores how the concept of coercion and the identity of victim might play themselves out through the broader rubric of 'otherness' in neo-liberal discourse. In doing so, we consider how the positioning of victims as ‘individuals’ who ‘should’ be agentic (re)inscribes versions of victim accountability which may work to (re) locate individuals within webs of coercive power. As an alternative point of departure, this paper delinates spaces within which notions of agency and accountability may be shifted and destabilised.
Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Social Psychology; victimisation; power; coercion; persuasion