Contradictions and conflicts: Researching school as conflictual social practice

Charlotte Højholt, Dorte Kousholt*

*Corresponding author

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


How can theoretical psychology develop concepts for analyzing connections between subjective dilemmas in everyday life and contradictions in historical social practice? We discuss this question by analyzing conflicts related to problems in children’s school lives. One frequent conflict is whether school problems should be explored in relation to individual deficits and deviations, family background, how the school is organized, the societal task of education, etc. However, such conflicts often become concealed by psychological concepts, which contributes to individualization, categorization, and the displacement of problems. We argue that theoretical development of the concept of conflict may support the widespread endeavors to transcend such reductionism by developing contextual and dialectical understandings of personal dilemmas. Through examples from empirical studies, the article illustrates how political conflicts concerning societal institutions (such as schools) form part of both intersubjective conflicts about common matters and personal conflicts in the conduct of everyday life.
Original languageEnglish
JournalTheory & Psychology
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)36-55
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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