RC46 Mourns the Loss of Maria van Bockstaele

The members of RC46 are very grateful to Martine Plasman (a colleague and friend of van Bockstaeles) and Nathalie van Bockstaele (Maria and Jacques van Bockstaele’s daughter) for sending us the following tribute:

Maria Van Bockstaele died on May 30th 2014, in Paris, in her 87th year, 2 years after her husband Jacques Van Bockstaele. Together they founded the centre de Socianalyse. They were both members of the RC 46.

Maria studied psychology at the Sorbonne and was part of the “laboratoire de psychologie sociale”, directed, at the time, by the French psychoanalyst Daniel Lagache. She was introduced to the group analysis approach, as developed at the University of Ann Harbor Michigan.

Jacques, after studies in history, law and cinéma, joined the centre d’études sociologiques (founded just after WWII by A. Gurvitch, to promote French research in social sciences, upon returning from exile in New-York, where he had been associated with the « New School for Social Research »). There, he performed classical surveys, and took part in a cross–cultural research project lead by Stanley Schachter, on the effect of threat on intra-inter -group relations, in seven European countries. It combined surveys with an experimental approach. Jacques thus became familiar with the American literature in sociology and social psychology, and eventually developed his own experimental design.

With their combined experiences, on intergroup–intragroup relations and group analysis, Jacques and Maria decided to build an analytic approach of intervention, which at the time was inconceivable within the French academia. In 1957, they founded their own private research center they called “centre de socianalyse”. From then on, with a few others who joined them, they worked on developing “socianalysis”, their clinical tool for intervention, in all its dimensions: a theory, a technique and a design for intervention. Their clients came from the French administrations, organizations, large companies, as well as families, or private groups.

Jacques and Maria were the first in France to use the term “clinical sociology” and were at the origin of its introduction as a new topical section in the French journal “L’Année Sociologique” (1963).

From 1990, Jacques and Maria and their colleagues closely followed the efforts to promote the creation of a “clinical sociology” research committee within the ISA. They participated in some of the sessions, as well as those of the Sociological Practice Association meetings.

Select bibliography:

La socianalyse Imaginer-Coopter, 2004 Economica, Anthropos

Papers in Clinical Sociology Review, volumes 12 and 14

Socioanalysis and clinical intervention, in “International Clinical Sociology”, J. M Fritz (ed.) 2008 Springer.



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