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Unformatted text preview: Re­Constructing
Women’s
Experiences
of
Sexual
Pain:
 The
‘Deviant’
Body
as
an
Object
of
Cultural
 Psychological
and
Feminist
Consideration.
 JULIA
RIEGLER
 University
of
Vienna
 
 
 
 Objects
of
research
are
never
simply
given
as
such
but
rather
constitute
themselves
according
to
 specific
 metatheoretical
 and
 methodological
 premises,
 which
 form
 the
 particular
 implicit
 foundation
 of
 scientific
 disciplines.
 Looking
 at
 a
 phenomenon
 from
 another
 point
 of
 view
 and,
 thus,
 changing
 this
 implicit
 foundation,
 reveals
 the
 very
 premises
 entailed
 in
 the
 predominant
 modus
of
its
examination.
This
paper
points
out
the
implications
and
benefits
of
such
a
change
of
 perspective
 with
 regard
 to
 the
 investigation
 of
 the
 phenomenon
 of
 recurring
 pain
 during
 (hetero)sexual
 intercourse
 in
 women.
 The
 proposed
 change
 is
 one
 from
 a
 predominantly
 medical
and
psychological
point
of
view
to
a
cultural
psychological
and
feminist
one.
At
the
same
 time,
 the
 suggested
 perspective
on
this
phenomenon
illustrates
 that
cultural
psychological
and
 qualitative
 research
 also
 proves
 to
 be
 worthwhile
 with
 regard
 to
 an
 understanding
 of
 phenomena,
 usually
 associated
 with
 ‘nature’—even
 of
 phenomena
 defined
 as
 deviation
 or
 disorder.
 
 
 
 Choosing
 a
 bodily
 phenomenon—beyond
 one
 which
 is
 understood
 as
 deviation
 from
 normality
 or
 as
 disorder—as
 a
 matter
 of
 cultural
 psychological
 concern
 may
 seem
 unexpected
at
first.
According
to
typically
western
dualisms1
the
scientific
treatment
of
 phenomena
 concerning
 the
 (deviant)
 body
 is
 monopolized
 by
 a
 few
 disciplines
 which
 define
themselves
as
natural
sciences:
biology,
medicine,
and
contemporary
mainstream
 psychology.
 Objects
 of
 research,
 however,
 are
 never
 simply
 given
 as
 such
 but
 rather
 constitute
 themselves
 according
 to
 specific
 metatheoretical
 and
 methodological
 premises.
Scientific
disciplines
differ
considerably
regarding
these
implicit
foundations.
 Looking
 at
 a
 phenomenon
 from
 another
 discipline’s
 point
 of
 view,
 therefore,
 mostly
 implies
to
reveal
the
very
premises
(and
biases)
entailed
in
the
predominant
modus
of
 its
 examination.
 It
 means
 to
 challenge
 these
 disciplines’
 power
 of
 defining
 a
 phenomenon.
And
it
means
to
scrutinize
the
kinds
of
knowledge
and
the
kinds
of
results
 involved
 in
 this
 very
 definition
 of
 the
 phenomenon,
 or—in
 other
 words—in
 its
 constitution
within
a
specific
tradition
of
reasoning.
 
 In
 this
 paper,
 I
 will
 point
 out
 the
 implications
 and
 benefits
 of
 such
 a
 change
 of
 perspective
with
regard
to
the
investigation
of
the
phenomenon
of
recurring
pain
during
 (hetero)sexual
intercourse
in
women.2
The
change
of
perspective
I
am
proposing
is
one
 1 2
This
 phenomenon
is
the
subject
 matter
I
am
dealing
with
in
my
dissertation
which
a ims
at
an
empirical
 Such
as
subject/object,
individual/society,
mind/body,
or
culture/nature.
 reconstruction
 of
 female
 experiences
 of
 pain
 during
 sexual
 intercourse
 from
 a
 feminist
 cultural
 psychological
point
of
view.
My
dissertation
is
part
of
a
transdisciplinary
DOC‐team
project
with
the
title
 “Criticizing
 Science
 by
 Politicizing
 Epistemology
 and
 the
 Body.
 Feminist
 venues
 for
 a
 transdisciplinary
 critique
of
science”
funded
 by
the
Austrian
Academy
of
 Sciences.
 Two
of
 my
colleagues,
 Iris
 Mendel
and
 Nora
Ruck,
are
also
contributing
to
this
volume.
 Psychology
&
Society,
2009,
Vol.
2
(1),
60
‐
71 60 from
 a
 predominantly
 medical
 and
 psychological
 point
 of
 view
 to
 a
 cultural
 psychological
 and
 feminist
 one.
 The
 phenomenon
 of
 painful
 sexual
 intercourse
 in
 women
suits
this
purpose
very
well
for
several
reasons:
It
is
a
phenomenon
concerning
 the
 body,
 experienced
 mainly
 by
women,
generally
accepted
as
deviation
 from
normal
 and
 healthy
 sexuality,
 and
 it
 has
 almost
 exclusively
 been
 researched
 by
 medicine
 and
 mainstream
 psychology.
 At
 the
 same
 time,
 my
 perspective
 on
 this
 phenomenon
 illustrates
 that
 cultural
 psychological
 and
 qualitative
 research,
 as
 pursued
 in
 the
 Viennese
 Institute
 of
 Cultural
 Psychology
 and
 Qualitative
 Social
 Research,3
 not
 only
 proves
 to
 be
 worthwhile
 with
 regard
 to
 the
 investigation
 of
 phenomena
 commonly
 accepted
to
be
‘cultural,’
but
also
with
regard
to
an
understanding
of
bodily
phenomena,
 usually
associated
with
‘nature’—even
of
phenomena
which
concern
the
lived
body4
and
 which
are
defined
as
deviation
or
disorder.
 
 FEMALE
EXPERIENCES
OF
PAINFUL
(HETERO)SEXUAL
INTERCOURSE—A
SEXUAL
 DYSFUNCTION?
 
 Female
 experiences
 of
 recurring
 pain
 during
 (hetero)sexual
 intercourse
 and
 the
 contexts
of
their
occurrence
appear
quite
heterogeneous
according
to
the
participants
of
 my
 study.
 Some
 women
 experience
 from
 the
 very
 sexual
 intercourse
 to
 each
 coitus
 as
 painful.
Other
women
only
feel
pain
during
intercourse
because
of
an
infection,
but
then
 also
after
the
infection
has
been
healed
the
pain
holds
on.
Some
women
report
that
they
 have
 been
 cheated
 on
 by
 their
 partner
 before
 sexual
 intercourse
 with
 this
 man
 or
 sometimes
also
with
subsequent
partners
became
painful.
The
pain
can
start
at
different
 times
during
sexual
intercourse
and
can
last
for
various
amounts
of
time.
Women
may
 experience
 sexual
 pain
 all
 their
 lives
 or
 just
 during
 specific
 phases
 of
 life.
 While
 some
 women
 avoid
 sexual
 intercourse
 because
 of
 the
 recurring
 pain,
 others
 have
 sexual
 intercourse,
despite
the
pain,
more
or
less
regularly.
For
some
women,
the
pain
means
a
 gross
restriction
of
sexuality
and
a
considerable
burden
on
the
relationship
as
well
as
a
 severe
decrease
 of
 the
 quality
 of
 life,
 while
for
 others
the
repeatedly
 experienced
 pain
 seems
to
be
less
focus
of
attention.
 
 Many
women,
suspecting
organic
causes
of
the
pain,
see
their
gynaecologist
at
first—if
 they
 decide
 to
 talk
 to
 somebody
 about
 it
 at
 all.
 They
 often
 face
 helpless
 medical
 practitioners
 and
 inappropriate
 medical
 care
 until
 they
 are
 finally—if
 ever—helped
 in
 an
 adequate
 way.
 The
 traditional
 clinical
 approach
 is
 a
 dualistic
 and
 reifying
 one:
 Usually
first
organic
sources
are
assumed
and
if
no
physical
causes
can
be
found
or
if
the
 treatment
is
not
successful,
a
psychic
causation
is
adopted.
Often,
however,
the
rigid
and
 reifying
focus
on
the
supposed
diseased
organ—the
vagina—or
on
the
supposed
disease
 is
often
maintained
 for
a
long
time,
even
if
the
treatment
is
not
successful.
Thus,
while
 reifying
the
supposed
disorder,
the
women,
her
experiences,
and
the
socio‐biographical
 embeddedness
of
both
are
neglected.
 3 Compare
Przyborski
&
Slunecko
(2009a;
2009b)
and
the
other
contributions
to
this
volume.
 According
 to
 phenomenology’s
 concepts
 of
 Körper
 (body)
 and
 Leib
 (lived
 body)
 we
 can
 analytically
 differentiate
 the
 body
 in
 its
 affective
 dimension
 and
 in
 its
 perceptibility
 from
 inside
 on
 the
 one
 hand
 (Leib),
and
the
malleable,
manipulable
objective
body
on
the
other
hand
(Körper)
(Gugutzer,
2006,
p.16).
 Practices
 concerning
 the
 body
 (Körper)
 such
 as
 dieting,
 wellness
 and
 fitness
 practices
 or
 cosmetic
 surgery,
 represent
 legitimate
 subject‐ matters
 of
 cultural
 and
 social
 sciences.
 Yet,
 this
 does
 not
 apply
 to
 bodily
phenomena
beyond
the
analytical
dimension
of
the
body
as
object
(Körper),
i.e.,
the
stubborn
body,
 the
body
as
subject
of
action,
as
we
can
find
in
psychosomatic
symptoms
which
are
still
monopolized
by
 natural
scientific
disciplines.
 4
 Psychology
&
Society,
2009,
Vol.
2
(1),
60
‐
71 61 
 The
so
 called
 disorder
 is
named
 dyspareunia5
in
the
 technical
terminology
 of
medicine
 and
 psychology.
 Under
 this
 name,
 it
 is
 defined
 as
 sexual
 disorder
 in
 the
 American
 Psychiatric
 Association’s
 Diagnostic
 and
 Statistical
 Manual
 of
 Mental
 Disorders
 (2000)
 and
as
 sexual
dysfunction
in
the
 World
Health
Organization’s
 International
Classification
 of
 Diseases
 (1994)—two
 classification
 manuals
 that
 internationally
 set
 the
 tone.
 Experiences
 of
 recurring
 pain
 during
 sexual
 intercourse
 in
 women
 are
 consequently
 understood
a
deviation
from
what
is
regarded
as
‘healthy’
or
‘normal’
sexuality.
 
 Considering
 this
 clinical
 practice,
 which
 forms
 the
 background
 of
 too
 often
 prolonged
 treatment
careers
(Payne
et
al.,
2005a),6
a
closer
look
at
the
prevailing
ways
of
scientific
 analysis
 of
 the
 phenomenon
 is
 suggested:
 How
 does
 the
 phenomenon
 of
 interest
 constitute
 itself
 as
 an
 object
 of
 research
 in
 the
 predominant
 view
 of
 mainstream
 psychology
and
medicine?
What
are
the
characteristics
of
this
object
of
research?
And
to
 what
 extent
 are
 these
 characteristics
 considered
 to
 be
 problematic
 from
 a
 cultural
 psychological
and
feminist
point
of
view?
A
critical
analysis
of
the
psychological
studies
 on
 female
 experiences
 of
 pain
 during
 intercourse
 carried
 out
 during
 the
 past
 fifteen
 years
 (e.g.
 Meana
 et
 al.,
 1997;
 1998;
 1999;
 Payne
 et
 al.,
 2005a;
 2005b)
 shows
 the
 following
characteristics
(see
Riegler
&
Przyborski,
2009):
 
 Firstly,
 we
 find
 an
 ahistoric
 stance
 and
 a
 fundamental
 tendency
 to
 reification.
 The
 examined
 phenomenon
 is
 treated
 as
 a
 natural,
 continuous
 ‘thing’—‘dyspareunia’— which
 is
 separated
 in
 different
 dimensions
 supposedly
 involved,
 such
 as
 ‘sexual
 dysfunction,’
 ‘marital
 adjustment,’
 ‘depression,’
 ‘anxiety,’
 or
 ‘fear
 orientation.’
 These
 alleged
 things
 then
 simply
 have
 to
 be
 operationalized
 and
 measured
 by
 standardized
 methods
 such
 as
 psychological
 tests,
 experiments
 or
 medical
 examinations
 and
 described
regarding
their
(cor)relations
in
order
to
obtain
universal
laws.
If
mainstream
 psychology
does
consider
social
structures
or
culture
significant
in
the
genesis
of
this
so
 called
sexual
disorder
at
all,
this
is
most
likely
reflected
in
the
involvement
of
variables
 such
 as
 ‘religion’
 or
 ‘nationality’
 in
 the
 statistical
 calculations—correspondingly
 understood
as
continuous,
isolated
‘things.’
 From
a
cultural
psychological
point
of
view,
 however,
these
‘things,’
which
have
considerable
normative
power,
have
to
be
regarded
 as
 correlates
 to
 specific
 practices
 in
 a
 specific
 socio‐historical
 context.
 They
 have
 no
 essence
or
continuity
as
such
and
thus,
we
have
to
draw
our
attention
away
from
these
 “false
 entities”
 (Slunecko,
 2007,
 p.48)
 and
 focus
 on
 the
 processes
 of
 their
 creation
 (Slunecko,
2002;
2007).
 
 Second,
these
reified
objects
of
knowledge
are
located
in
single
individuals
who
are
self‐ evidently
taken
as
starting
point
of
research.
Hence,
the
psychological
studies
conducted
 up
to
now
are
located
within
the
so
called
one‐person‐paradigm.
Cultural
psychology,
on
 the
 contrary,
 considers
 individuals
 as
 already
 being
 epiphenomena
 of
 cultural
 environments
 and
 socio‐historical
 circumstances
 (Slunecko,
 2002;
 2007).
 Both
 reification
 and
 methodological
 individualism
 are
 typical
 of
 the
 psychological
 research
 practice
in
general
(Slunecko,
2002;
2007).
From
a
cultural
psychological
point
of
view,
 moreover,
 we
 can
 consider
 mainstream
 psychology’s
 pervasive
 tendency
 to
 reify
 its
 5 The
term
is
of
ancient
Greek
origin
(dys­:

bad,
adverse,
difficult;
pareunos:
bedfellow,
spouse)
and
means
 “difficult
mating
or
badly
mated”
(Howard,
2000,
p.112).
 6
 These,
partly,
long
lasting
treatment
carriers
have
also
been
reported
by
many
women
who
participated
 in
my
research
project
so
far.
 Psychology
&
Society,
2009,
Vol.
2
(1),
60
‐
71 62 phenomena
and
to
proceed
from
the
isolated
individual
as
its
two
“core
epistemological
 prejudices”
(Przyborski
&
Slunecko,
2009a).
 
 Further,
we
can
see
that
the
reified
symptom
is
handled
as
an
expression
of
‘deficiencies’
 which
are
credited
mainly
to
the
 single
woman
and
to
her
psyche
and/or
her
body:
She
 is
the
one
who
‘has’
the
disorder,
the
disease.
 This
can
be
understood
as
a
symptom
of
 androcentric
 science’s
 ignoring
 of
 the
 existential
 attachedness7
 of
 its
 knowledge
 (Mannheim,
 1980)
 as
 stressed
 particularly
 from
 a
 feminist
 perspective
 (e.g.
 Harding,
 1999).
 Implicit
 social
 norms
are
 passed
off
as
 universal
and
divergent
 experiences
are
 understood
 as
 (individual)
 deficiencies,
 while
 social
 normality
 always
 remains
 unquestioned.
The
women’s
health
movement
and
women’s
health
research
termed
the
 strategy
of
localizing
the
problem
in
the
single
woman
the
pathologification
of
women
or
 women’s
 experiences
 and
 identified
 it
 as
 a
 crucial
 feature
 of
 androcentric,
 especially
 biomedical
and
psychological
discourses
(Helfferich,
1994a;
Kickbusch,
1981;
Kuhlmann
 &
Babitsch,
1997).
 
 A
scientific
discipline,
however,
which
is
exclusively
interested
in
single
individuals
and
 in
 “false
 entities”
 and
 which
 does
 not
 reflect
 the
 methodological
 foundations
 of
 its
 empirical
research
runs
the
risk
of
substantiating
existing
constructions
of
reality
and
of
 reproducing
 dominant
 discourses
 and
 ideologies
 (Slunecko,
 2002,
 p.122;
 Bourdieu,
 1997,
 p.153;
 Mannheim,
 1952,
 p.227).
 Thus,
 a
 scientific
 approach
 that
 considers
 women’s
 pain
 during
 heterosexual
 intercourse
 as
 an
 individual
 somatic
 or
 psychic
 deficiency
 joins
 a
 tradition
 of
 androcentric
 science
 which
 establishes
 masculinity
 (and
 respectively
 a
 specifically
 normalised
 femininity)
 as
 unmarked
 norm
 and
 pathologizes
 women
 (and
 men)
 with
 different
 experiences.
 It
 excludes
 the
 possibility
 of
 understanding
the
phenomenon
in
its
complex,
collective,
cultural
and
social
contexts.
 
 A
FEMINIST
CULTURAL
PSYCHOLOGICAL
PERSPECTIVE
AND
ITS
 METHODOLOGICAL
IMPLICATIONS
 
 This
 aim
 demands
 a
 perspective
 which
 allows
 for
 focusing
 the
 creation
 of
 the
 phenomenon
 of
 women’s
 pain
 during
 sexual
 intercourse
 in
 a
 specific
 socio‐cultural
 context.
 Focusing
 on
 the
 processes
 of
 creation,
 i.e.,
 the
 correlating
 practices
 of
 a
“false
 entity”
such
as
‘dyspareunia,’
can
take
place
in
different
ways.
It
may
address
the
critical
 analysis
of
the
construction
of
the
‘sexual
disorder’
‘dyspareunia’
in
specific
 discourses,
 such
as
scientific
discourses
or
popular
discourses
(as
briefly
outlined
above).8
Or—and
 this
 is
 the
 perspective
I
 will
 pursue
in
the
following—it
may
aim
at
 reconstructing
the
 practical
 accomplishment
 (Garfinkel,
 1967)
 of
 this
 phenomenon
 through
 everyday
 practices.
 
 This
 perspective
 demands
 both
 a
 conceptualisation
 of
 the
 women
 as
 social
 actors
 instead
of
regarding
them
as
‘affected’
by
‘dyspareunia’
and
a
notion
of
social
action
that
 considers
the
unquestioned,
habitual,
and
not
the
intentional
and
instrumental‐rational
 action
to
be
the
usual
case
of
social
action.
Also,
a
meta‐theory
is
required
that
takes
into
 account
 the
 fact
 that
 the
 social
 actors
 and
 their
 practices
 are
 always
 and
 already
 7
i.e.
the
insight
that
all
knowledge
is
bound
up
with
a
concrete
socio‐historical
position.
 8
 For
a
general
discussion
of
the
social
construction
of
so
called
female
sexual
dysfunctions
see
also
Drew
 (2003),
Fishman
(2004),
Moynihan
(2003),
Nicolson
(2003a;
b)
and
Tiefer
(2003).
 Psychology
&
Society,
2009,
Vol.
2
(1),
60
‐
71 63 embedded
 in
 specific
 socio‐cultural
 circumstances
 and
 interwoven
 with
 collective
 structures.
 
 Two
 sociological
 traditions
 that
 provide
 a
 methodological
 access
 to
 the
 practical
 accomplishment
 of
 social
 reality
 are
 Karl
 Mannheim’s
 (1964;
 1980)
 sociology
 of
 knowledge
 and
 Bourdieu’s
 habitus
 theory
 (1982;
 1987;
 1997;
 2001).
 From
 the
 perspective
of
these
theories,
social
reality
is
a
manifestation
of
human
practice,
and
all
 practice
 is
 fundamentally
 structured
 by
 meaning.
 Bourdieu
 theorizes
 this
 notion
 of
 social
 reality
 being
 structured
 by
 meaning
 with
 the
 concept
 of
 the
 habitus
 as
 a
 modus
 operandi,
i.e.,
 a
 structuring
structure
 which
brings
forth
social
practice
 and
thus
 social
 reality.
 As
 a
 complex
 ensemble
 of
 incorporated
 patterns
 the
 habitus
 orientates
 any
 perceiving,
judging,
speaking,
feeling,
acting
beyond
individual
intentions
and
planning.
 These
 patterns
 or
 orientations
 have
 to
 be
 understood
 as
 atheoretical,
 non‐reflexive
 knowledge
 which
 is
 embedded
 in
 immediate,
 everyday
 practice
 and
 shows
 in
 the
 specific
how
of
practical
action.

 
 The
 specific
 existential
 conditions,
 which
 create
 specific
 habitus
 and,
 hence,
 specific
 practices,
are
theorized
with
Mannheim’s
concept
of
the
conjunctive
sphere
of
experience
 (e.g.
 1980,
 p.216).
 It
 theoretically
 conceptualizes
 collectivity
 detached
 from
 a
 concrete
 group.
These
spheres
of
experience
are
understood
as
places
of
common
experience
due
 to
 a
 shared
 background.
 This
 shared
 background
 represents
 the
 basis
 for
 the
 development
 of
 collective
 bodies
 of
 knowledge
 and
 orientations
 regarding
 social
 practice.
Thus,
subjects
are
always
participating
in
different
spheres
of
experience
such
 as
 gender‐typical,
 class‐typical,
 development‐typical,
 generation‐typical
 or
 culture‐ typical
 spheres
 of
 experience,
 each
 of
 which
 are
 characterised
 by
 specific
 collective
 a‐ theoretical
 bodies
 of
 knowledge
 and
 orientations
 interwoven
 in
 a
 specific
 way.
 Hence,
 “the
meaning
of
a
certain
practice
as
well
as
the
emotionality
which
motivates
and
keeps
 up
this
practice
is
not
an
individual,
but
a
social
and
often
collective
issue”
(Przyborski
&
 Slunecko,
2009a).
 
 Proceeding
 from
 these
 assumptions
 we
 must
 consider
 sexuality
 too
 a
 social
 practice
 representing
 a
 document
 of
 a
 specific
 habitus
 which
 is
 acquired
 from
 a
 specific
 biographical
 and
 social
 standpoint.
 The
 orientations,
 which
 are
 inscribed
 in
 the
 gendered
bodies,
show
as
specific
individual
and
collective
bodily
practices
and
thereby
 constitute
specific
 somatic
cultures,
i.e.,
specific
codes
of
experiencing
and
acting
(with)
 the
body
(Meuser,
2005;
Kolip,
1999;
Helfferich,
1994b).
Somatic
cultures
not
only
entail
 the
 practical
 relation
 to
 one’s
 own
 body,
 but
 already
 and
 always
 to
 others’
 bodies
 as
 well,
i.e.,
people’s
bodily
encounters,
including
sexuality.
Somatic
cultures
form
both
the
 outwardly
 visible,
 instrumentally
 and
 expressively
 employed
 body
 and
 the
 body
 in
 its
 affective
dimension,
i.e.,
the
body
in
its
perceptibility
from
inside.
 
 Based
on
an
instrument
of
fundamental
terms
and
basis
concepts
outlined
here,
we
can
 specify
 the
 concern
 of
 a
 feminist
 cultural
 psychological
 reconstruction
 of
 the
 phenomenon
 of
 recurring
 sexual
 pain
 in
 women
 as
 follows:
 The
 object
 of
 empirical
 reconstruction
 are
 specific
 somatic
 practical
 cultures
 interlinked
 with
 recurring pain
 during
(hetero)sexual
intercourse
and
orientating
sexual
practice
as
well
as
the
body
in
 its
 perceptibility
 and
 its
 affective
dimension.
Thus,
we
have
 to
reconstruct
the
implicit
 practical
orientations,
which
are
inscribed
into
the
women’s
bodies
and
which
show
in
 their
acting
and
speaking,
and
bring
them
to
terms.
Furthermore,
we
have
to
determine
 Psychology
&
Society,
2009,
Vol.
2
(1),
60
‐
71 64 in
 which
 existential
 contexts
 the
 reconstructed
 somatic
 cultures
 have
 been
 generated.
 Focusing
 on
 those
 biographically
 and
 socially
 structured
 experiences
 is
 central
 to
 the
 reconstruction
 of
 the
 very
 individual
 and
 collective
 problems
 of
 sexual
 socialization
 which
women
are
‘handling’
through
the
pain.
 
 IMPLICIT
KNOWLEDGE
REFLECTED
IN
NARRATIVES
 
 How
 can
 the
 creation,
 i.e.,
 the
 practical
 accomplishment
 of
 painful
 sexual
 intercourse,
 the
 somatic
 cultures
 involved
 and
 the
 context
 of
 their
 genesis
 be
 reconstructed
 in
 a
 methodically
 adequate
 way?
 How
 can
 the
 claimed
 change
 from
 a
 “modus
 of
 pure
 reification”
 (Przyborski
 &
 Slunecko,
 2009a)
 to
 the
 aim
 of
 reconstructing
 the
 very
 process
structures
underlying
the
phenomenon
be
realized
in
research
practice?
 
 Such
research
practice
“has
to
take
its
starting
point
at
everyday
practice
and
everyday
 knowledge”
 (Przyborski
 &
 Slunecko,
 2009a).
 As
 depicted
 before,
 both
 Mannheim’s
 sociology
of
knowledge
and
Bourdieu’s
habitus
theory
present
methodological
access
to
 the
 everyday
 practical
 accomplishment
 of
 social
 reality.
 Yet,
 the
 atheoretical,
 implicit
 knowledge
 focused
 in
 these
 traditions,
 is
 constantly
 and
 intuitively
 employed
 by
 the
 subjects
in
their
everyday
practices
but
not
necessarily
available
to
them.
Beyond
their
 conscious
personal
 intentions,
they
always
act
as
women
or
men
with
a
specific
cultural
 and
 biographical
 background.
 Thus,
 the
 kind
 of
 knowledge
 we
 are
 interested
 in
 is
 enmeshed
 in
 the
 practice
 of
 action
 and
 therefore
 taken
 for
 granted
 by
 the
 subjects
 so
 much
that
it
often
cannot
be
explicated
by
them,
i.e.,
they
cannot
give
“information
about
 the
full
meaning
and
genesis”
(Przyborski
&
Slunecko
,2009a)
of
their
practices.

 
 Thus,
 since
 “social
 meaning
 unfolds
 ‘through
 us’”
 (Przyborski
 &
 Slunecko,
 2009a),
 i.e.,
 through
 our
 everyday
 practices
 and
 beyond
 our
 subjective
 intentions,
 it
 can
 only
 be
 reconstructed.
 As
the
implicit
knowledge
which
is
guiding
the
subjects’
practices
cannot
 be
 accessed
 via
 their
 explicit
 theories
 and
 explanations,
 but
 shows
 in
 concrete
 and
 detailed
 descriptions
 and
 accounts
 of
 their
 everyday
 practices,
 we
 have
 to
 take
 these
 descriptions
or
narratives
as
empirical
data.
According
to
reconstructive
social
research
 (Bohnsack,
1989/2003;
Przyborski
&
Wohlrab‐Sahr,
2008)
we
consider
these
narratives
 or
descriptions
as
spontaneous
depictions
of
a
particular
course
of
events
or
actions,
i.e.,
 the
 detailed
 depiction
 of
 everyday
 practices
 reflecting
 the
 process
 structure
 of
 action.
 Only
 once
 we
 interpret
 these
 linguistic
 expressions
 not
 only
 within
 the
 layer
 of
 immanent
 sense,
 i.e.,
 the
 literal
 sense,
 but
 as
 documents
 of
 underlying
 unconscious
 patterns,
can
we
reconstruct
how
social
reality
is
accomplished
practically.
 
 There
 are
 two
 established
 methods
 for
 generating
 such
 impromptu
 narratives
 or
 descriptions:
 narrative
 interview
 (Schütze,
 1983)
 and
 group
 discussion
 (Bohnsack,
 1989/2003;
 Bohnsack,
 Przyborski
 &
 Schäffer,
 2006).
 They
 particularly
 meet
 the
 principle
of
 openness
 as
one
of
the
central
principles
of
reconstructive
social
research.
 This
 principle
 means
 that
 the
 theoretical
 structuring
 of
 the
 research
 object
 is
 subordinated
until
the
actual
structuring
of
the
research
object,
done
by
the
participants
 of
research,
has
emerged
(Hoffmann‐Riem,
1980,
 p.22).
It
is
“[e]nsured
by
creating
the
 conditions
 for
 communication
 in
 such
 a
 way
 that
 subjects
 are
 free
 to
 find
 and
 follow
 their
own
form
of
presentation
(of
presenting
their
situations,
problems,
life
stories
etc.)
 within
their
own
system
of
relevance
and
their
own
language”
(Przyborski
&
Slunecko,
 2009a).
 Psychology
&
Society,
2009,
Vol.
2
(1),
60
‐
71 65 
 Methods
 of
interpretation
 that
 take
into
account
 the
leading
methodological
difference
 between
 the
 reflexive
 and
 the
 practical
 knowledge
 are,
 amongst
 others,9
 the
 documentary
method
as
elaborated
by
Bohnsack
(1989/2003)
and
the
narration
analysis
 as
 elaborated
 by
 Schütze
 (1976;
 1983).
 While
 the
 analysis
 of
 narrative‐biographical
 interviews
allows
for
the
elaboration
of
the
basic
biographical
layers
of
experience,
the
 interpretation
of
group
discussions
allows
for
identifying
collective
bodies
of
knowledge
 and
 meaning.
 They
 both,
 however,
 are
 based
 upon
 the
 differentiation
 of
 two
 levels
 of
 meaning:
the
subjective
sense,
i.e.,
the
manifest
content,
and
the
principles
of
fabricating
 social
 practice,
 i.e.,
 the
 document
 meaning,
 and
 moreover,
 the
 defining
 of
 the
 relation
 between
 these
 two
 levels.
 10
 Both
 methods
 are
 foremost
 interested
 in
 the
 latter
 for
 it
 “leads
 to
 the
 social
 structures/rules
 which
underlie
 and
 ‘bring
 forth’
 the
 phenomenon
 that
is
analyzed”
(Przyborski
&
Slunecko,
2009a).

 
 The
following
example
illustrates
the
differentiation
of
these
two
 levels
of
meaning:11
It
 is
taken
 from
 a
group
discussion
between
 two
 women,
 26
and
28
years
old,
who
have
 been
friends
for
ten
years.
When
I
asked
them
about
their
expectations
regarding
sexual
 interaction
in
relation
to
the
actual
sexual
interactions
with
their
partners,
the
following
 discussion
developed:12
 
 B:
 
 A:
 B:
 A:
 
 B:

 A:
 B:
 if

 A:
 B:
 A:
 B:
 A:
 B:
 B:
 so

 
 A:
 B:
 A:
 B:
 
 A:
 9 I
don’t
know
whether
you
can
explain
this.
(.)
Because
de
facto
it
is
nothing
but
what
(.)
what
you
 just
do,
(1)
purely
concerning
the
explaining.
Concerning
the
practical,
you
know?
So
to
speak.
 It
just
feels
different.
@(.)@
 
 
 









It
feels
different,
(.)
it
feels
@much
better@;
@(1)@
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

















 @(.)@
 @That’s
 right
 yes@
 @(.)@
 that’s
n‐
that’s
not
because
of
(1)
your
partner,
but
maybe
because
of
the
to 
strong
 
 
 
 
 
 










Well
I
think
that’s
because
of
oneself
(.)
 of
the
too 
strong
powers
of
imagination
or
so.
(2)
I
know
(.)
or
no
I
don’t
know.
(1)
But
that’s
like
 you
for
instance
 








I
also
can
I
also
can
become
damp
because
of
that.
(.)
That
works.
 Yes
exactly.
(.)
Anyway.
(.)
Of
course.
(.)
And
when
reality
comes
in,
it’s
possible
that
it’s

 
 
 
 

















 °@(.)@°
 all
over
at
once.
 @(1)@
(.)
@(1)@
 










 @That
works
too@
 Although
you
don’t
expect
that
reality
thwarts
your
plans.
It’s
 not
like
you
think
I
imagine
it
to
be
 beautiful,
but
when
he
does
this
it
will
surely 
go
wrong;
(1)
I
know
(.)
that’s
also
in
the
textbook
of
 psychology.
 
 @(2)@
 
 




 @I’m
sorry.
But
that’s
not
true@
That’s
not
true.
 
 
 
 
 
 







 That’s
what
it
isn’t
(.)
that’s
what
it
isn’t.
Not
at
all
 
 































































































































































That’s
 what
it
isn’t.
No.
@(.)@
Yes
exactly.
@(.)@
 
 





























































 @(.)@
@Our
brain
just
can
do
better
@.

 These
include
objective
hermeneutics
and
grounded
theory
(Przyborski
&
Wohlrab‐Sahr,
2008).
 Narration
analysis,
for
example,
differentiates
between
theories
on
one’s
self
and
the
process
structures
 underlying
everyday
practices
as
they
show
in
 how
these
practices
are
depicted
by
the
subjects
(Schütze,
 1983;
Przyborski
&
Wohlrab‐Sahr,
2008).
 11
 For
 more
 detailed
 research
 examples
 following
 the
 method(olog)ical
 lines
 outlined
 above
 see
 Przyborski
&
Slunecko
(2009b).
 12 The
signs
read
as
follows:
(.)
=
short
break;
(3)
=
three
seconds
break;
underlined
=
emphasis;
bold
=
 loud;
@
=
laughing;

=
overlap.
 10 Psychology
&
Society,
2009,
Vol.
2
(1),
60
‐
71 66 B:
 @Yes
that’s
great
anyway@.
Exactly.
 
 This
 example
 does
 not
 entail
 the
 women’s
 own
 theoretical
 account
 of
 the
 principles
 guiding
their
sexual
practice
or
even
the
genesis
of
these
principles.
Rather
it
represents
 their
effort
to
depict
their
everyday
sexual
practice
and
experience.
After
a
procedure
of
 interpretation,
 which
 cannot
 be
 reproduced
 here
 in
 detail
 (see
 Riegler
 &
 Przyborski,
 2009),
 we
 could
 work
 out
 the
 following
 documentary
 meaning,
 i.e.,
 structuring
 structure:
 Imagination
 and
 reality
 represent
 two
 clearly
 separate
 spheres.
 These
 two
 spheres
remain
distinct;
there
is
no
transfer
between
them.
The
only
mode
of
contact
is
 mutual
 disturbance
 and
 destruction.
 Within
 imagination
 a
 nearly
 total
 autonomy
 is
 maintained,
which
would
be
lost
if
it
was
‘touched’
by
 reality.
Just
as
the
dissociation
of
 imagination
and
reality,
the
pain
too
prevents
pleasure
to
be
experienced
in
dependence
 from
others.
This
desire
for
total
autonomy
contrasts
with
the
desire
for
deliverance
and
 relief
from
pain
and
from
being
‘untouchable.’
Herein
a
fundamental
dilemma
regarding
 the
women’s
action
orientations
is
revealed:
the
longing
for
being
healed
and
delivered
 by
a
higher
power,
and
at
the
same
moment
the
longing
for
total
autonomy,
the
longing
 for
relief
from
needs
that
need
another.
 
 This
 common
 orientational
 dilemma13
 seems
 particularly
 interesting
 against
 the
 backdrop
 of
 feminist
 considerations
 of
female
agency
or
 autonomy
 and
 female
longing
 for
love
or
female
sexuality:
On
various
occasions
feminists
(e.g.
Düring,
1993;
Benjamin,
 1990)
pointed
to
the
potential
for
conflict
inherent
in
contradictory
social
demands
on
 women
 according
 to
 the
 opposed
 ideal
 types
 of
 male
 activity
 /autonomy
 and
 female
 passivity/dependence.
Within
current
structure
of
gender
relations,
the
pursuit
of
both
 femaleness
 and
 agency
 involves
 a
 dilemma,
 which
 finally
 leads
 to
 the
 splitting
 of
 autonomy
and
sexuality.
 
 Considering
 socialization
 as
 process
 of
 incorporating
 structures
 of
 the
 social
 world
 (Bourdieu,
 2001,
 p.177),
 especially
 of
 gender
 relations
 (Bourdieu,
 1997),
 we
 can
 understand
 the
 pain
 as
 crystallization
 of
 these
 women’s
 social
 worlds.
 From
 this
 perspective,
 the
 pain
 becomes
 a
 symptom
 and
 a
 symbol
 of
 a
 struggle
 which
 both
 expresses
power
relations
and
seeks
to
overcome
them.
 
 This
 kind
 of
 considerations
 follow
 a
 feminist
 tradition
 which
 considers
 so
 called
 disorders
not
as
individual
deviations
or
deficiencies
but
as
characteristic
expression
of
 a
 specific
 socio‐cultural
 context
 at
 a
 specific
 historical
 moment.
 It
 challenges
 the
 pathologification
 of
 the
 female
 body
 and
 the
 psychological
 and
 medical
 power
 of
 definition
 by
 setting
 the
 analysis
 of
 female
 ‘disease’
 as
 manifestation
 of
 the
 suffering
 from
patriarchal
society
against
it
 (see
 Bordo,
1992;
Braun,
1995;
Breiter,
1990;
Bruch,
 1986;
Gast,
1989;
Hagemann‐White,
1994;
Schneider,
1981).
 
 
 
 13 Within
group
discussions
orientational
 dilemmas
usually
represent
the
group’s
pivotal
problem,
which
 becomes
 especially
 apparent
 in
 so
 called
 focusing
 metaphors.
 These
 focusing
 passages—as
 which
 the
 presented
 example
 can
 be
 considered—are
 characterized
 by
 high
 interactive
 and
 metaphorical
 density.
 We
 can
 find
 comparatively
 many
 metaphors
 within
 these
 passages
 because
 they
 point
 to
 the
 group’s
 current
 orientational
 problems
 which
 yet
 have
 not
 been
 solved
 and
 therefore
 cannot
 be
 explicated 
 (compare
Loos
&
Schäffer
2001,
70).
 Psychology
&
Society,
2009,
Vol.
2
(1),
60
‐
71 67 CONCLUSION
 
 The
 previous
 exploration
 has
 clearly
 shown
 that
 already
 the
 objects
 of
 scientific
 contemplation,
 such
 as
 female
 experiences
 of
 pain
 during
 sexual
 intercourse,
 are
 not
 ‘given’
 as
 such
 but
 always
 constitute
 themselves
 within
 the
 framework
 of
 certain
 metatheoretical
 and
 methodological
 premises.
 These
 premises
 involve
 certain
 ways
 of
 recognition
 and
 therefore
 certain
 kinds
 of
 results.
 Further,
 they
 linked
 to
 certain
 methodologies
and
methods.
 
 In
 the
 hegemonic
 perspective
 of
 medicine
 and
 mainstream
 psychology
 women
 who
 experience
 painful
 sexual
 intercourse—as
 those
 who
 carry
 the
 symptom—always
 remain
 those
 who
 carry
 the
 problem,
 too—usually
 as
 single
 individuals
 whose
 deficiencies
 are
 attempted
 to
 be
removed.
 Both,
the
interactive
 and
collective
contexts
 involved
 in
 the
 genesis
 and
 maintenance
 of
 conditions
 of
 pain
 and
 suffering
 and
 the
 women’s
implicit
knowledge,
which
guides
their
everyday
practices,
are
neglected.
This
 embodied
 knowledge
as
well
as
its
relevance,
however,
remain
invisible
as
long
as
it
is
 obscured
by
the
‘sexual
dysfunction’
of
‘dyspareunia’
in
the
sense
of
an
alleged
objective
 reality,
i.e.,
as
a
“false
entity.”
 
 As
 long
 as
 we
 do
 not
 carry
 out
 studies
 which
 systematically
 take
 into
 account
 the
 existential
 attachedness
 of
 scientific
 practices
 and
knowledge
and
 which
overcome
the
 individualism,
 objectivism,
 and
 androcentrism
 within
 the
 predominant
 constitution
 of
 sexual
 pain
 as
 object
 of
 research,
 we
 will
 find
deficient
 single
 women
 in
 the
results
 of
 our
 studies.
 Once
 we
 examine
 the
 phenomenon
 from
 a
 cultural
 psychological
 and
 feminist
 point
 of
 view,
 the
 result
 will
 be
 the
 reconstruction
 of
 a
 specific
 socio‐cultural
 and
 socio‐psychological
 context
 of
 experience
 at
 a
 specific
 historical
 moment
 which
 expresses
through
the
subjects
and
their
bodies.
 
 References14
 
 APA
–
American
Psychiatric
Association
(2000).
Diagnostic
and
statistical
manual
of
 mental
disorders
–
DSM­IV­TR
(4th
edition,
Text
Revision).
Washington
DC.
 Benjamin,
Jessica
(1990).
Die
Fesseln
der
Liebe.
Psychoanalyse,
Feminismus
und
das
 Problem
der
Macht.
Frankfurt
am
Main:
Fischer.
 Bohnsack,
Ralf
(1989/2003).
Rekonstruktive
Sozialforschung.
Einführung
in
die
 Methodologie
und
Praxis
qualitativer
Sozialforschung.
Opladen:
Leske+Budrich.
 Bohnsack,
Ralf,
Przyborski,
Aglaja
&
Schäffer,
Burkhard
(Eds.)
(2006).
Das
 Gruppendiskussionsverfahren
in
der
Forschungspraxis.
Opladen:
Leske+Budrich.
 Bordo,
Susan
(1992).
Anorexia
nervosa:
psychopathology
as
the
crystallization
of
 culture.
In
Helen
Crowley
&
Susan
Himmelweit
(Eds.),
Knowing
women.
Feminism
 and
knowledge
(pp.90‐109).
Cambrigde:
Polity
Press.

 Bourdieu,
Pierre
(1982).
Die
feinen
Unterschiede.
Kritik
der
gesellschaftlichen
Urteilskraft.
 Frankfurt
am
Main:
Suhrkamp.
 Bourdieu,
Pierre
(1987).
Sozialer
Sinn.
Kritik
der
theoretischen
Vernunft.
Frankfurt
am
 Main:
Suhrkamp.
 14 Contrary
to
APA
guidelines,
 the
references
include
the
authors’
first
name
in
order
to
make
women
in
 science
more
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 AUTHOR
BIOGRAPHY
 
 Julia
Riegler
is
currently
a
PhD
candidate
and
recipient
of
a
DOC‐team‐fellowship
of
the
 Austrian
 Academy
 of
 Sciences
 at
 the
 Department
 of
 Psychological
 Basic
 Research,
 University
 of
 Vienna.
 She
 is
 vice
 executive
 chairwoman
 of
 the
 Institute
 of
 Cultural
 Psychology
 and
 Qualitative
 Social
 Research.
 Her
 research
 interests
 include
 feminist
 theory,
body
theory,
and
qualitative
research.
Email
julia.riegler@univie.ac.at
 Psychology
&
Society,
2009,
Vol.
2
(1),
60
‐
71 71 ...
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