Gendered patterns of interaction: A Foucauldian discourse analysis of couple therapy
Sutherland, O., LaMarre, A., Rice, C., Hardt, L., & Jeffrey, N. (2016). Gendered patterns of interaction: A Foucauldian discourse analysis of couple therapy. Contemporary Family Therapy, 38(4), 385-399. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10591-016-9394-6
In recent years, there has been a rapid increase in attention to gender and gender-based inequalities in family therapy. Despite this, there is a dearth of empirical work that examines how gendered inequalities intersecting with other axes of privilege/oppression are maintained within families, including in the therapeutic context. In this study, we used Foucauldian discourse analysis to examine how gendered power is produced and reproduced circularly or through recurrent patterns of interaction in couple therapy. We identified gendered discourses and assumptions informing partners’ constructions of their gendered selves and relationships. We highlight the complexity and intersectionality of gendered subjectivities and relations in contemporary Canadian couples involved in heterosexual relationships. Although women in this study contest their oppression and exhibit agency to negotiate who they are in general and in relation to men, they simultaneously continue to occupy subordinate positions in a gender order that is culturally and interactionally allocated to them. We discuss implications for family therapy practice.