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Real Fantasies: Reinserting the Imaginary in the Scene of Social Encounter

Ffytche, Matt (2019) 'Real Fantasies: Reinserting the Imaginary in the Scene of Social Encounter.' Psychoanalysis, Culture and Society, 24. 394 - 412. ISSN 1088-0763

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This article considers the ‘imaginary’ as an entity that is often excluded from the sociological imagination, and argues that the imagination of human encounters – including fantasies about this – are essential for understanding the dynamics of interaction processes. Despite the emergence, since the 1980s, of a literature aiming to constitute fantasy and the imaginary as an object of social study, the sociological portrait of human interaction has remained dominated by cognitive models, even where these draw on psychoanalysis. Psychoanalytic evocations of internal processes as a theatre, or dramaturgy, are placed alongside dramaturgical models of mental life from sociology, in order to pin-point the differences in their characterisation of the function of imagination, and especially its emotional investments. I argue for a view of imagination and fantasy as crucial social facts. Drawing in particular on psychoanalytically-informed examples from Frantz Fanon, David Marriott and others, I also argue that the reason why the imaginary keeps being rendered invisible to sociology is not because it cannot be empirically objectified. Rather it is because the antagonisms and disavowals which surround many interaction processes, along with the strong emotions this provokes, fail to fit with sociology’s assumptions about rational intent.

Item Type: Article
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies, Department of
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 30 Aug 2019 13:42
Last Modified: 24 Oct 2020 01:00

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