Ronald Hünneman
SEW foundation, The Netherlands




The theory of the dialogical self states that the self consists of a number of dialogical positions. These positions shape the way in which persons interact with the social environment. This view seems to imply that (socially and emotionally impaired) youngsters who interact non-adequately or stereotypically with their social environment are troubled by role-poverty: they simply lack a sufficient variety of positions, or they do not make use of all their positions. This theoretical inference, role-poverty, presents us with a new possibility to give these youngsters a social competence training. We can make use of so-called role-playing games (e.g. Baldur's Gate). If these games are augmented so as to fit the therapeutic needs of the youngster, they make a promising new pedagogical instrument. The goal of the project 'New Roles for the Self' is fourfold: (1) to put the theoretical assumptions with regards to role-poverty to the test (with the use of role-playing games), (2) to investigate the nature and structure of the roles which are to be used to train youngsters, (3) to develop, on the basis of (1) and (2) a computer program to train socially or emotionally impaired youngsters, (4) to implement this program in schools. This paper presents this project and discusses some of the problems arising from the intricate interplay between the theory of the dialogical self an role-playing games as a research and therapeutic instrument.