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Black, D.M. (2016). Managed Lives: Psychoanalysis, Inner Security and the Social Order by Steven Groarke Routledge, Hove, 2014; 246 pp; £29.99. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 97(5):1449-1454.

(2016). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 97(5):1449-1454

Managed Lives: Psychoanalysis, Inner Security and the Social Order by Steven Groarke Routledge, Hove, 2014; 246 pp; £29.99

Review by:
David M. Black

In this interesting book, Steven Groarke, who is both a lecturer in Social Theory and a psychoanalyst, brings together his two disciplines to look at both sides of a ‘fault-line’, as he calls it, in the assimilation of Freud's legacy by the British professional world. Sociology and psychoanalysis make uneasy bedfellows - but that is the point.

The difficulty of sociology is that the world the sociologist describes - ‘society’ - is one that is in constant turbulent motion, and the sociologist is part of it; moreover, the sociologist's theories give rise to further currents within the same turbulence. This is generally known as the problem of ‘reflexivity’. Sociologists have attempted in the past to deal with it by two strategies. One was by mounting ever higher on a ladder of abstractions, arriving at impressively lofty theoretical notions such as ‘structuration’ or ‘rationalities of governance’; the other was by searching for ‘norms’, trends within the turbulence by comparison with which other trends could be conceived as departures or ‘deviations’. This latter strategy is often rejected nowadays, for in a world of reflexivity, on what basis can a ‘norm’ be recognized?

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[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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