Advertisement

Subjectivity

, Volume 23, Issue 1, pp 236–245 | Cite as

Subjectivity, Self and Everyday Life in Contemporary Capitalism

  • Ian BurkittEmail author
Original Article

Abstract

In this piece, I make a distinction between the terms “subjectivity” and “self” in social science, arguing that the term subject – a being subject to others by control or dependence and subject to itself through reflexive domination – cannot be simply substituted for the term self. Talk of subjectivity helps critical psychologists understand how individuals are formed in power relations, but the term self helps us understand individuals in a more well-rounded way as having identities formed in more general social relations. However, I argue that the power relations shaping everyday lives today are those of neo-liberal capitalism, which is attempting to create individuals who are the subjects of work and consumerism. Yet to understand the agents who resist this form of power and subjection, we need a conception of selves that have the social bases from which to develop critical ideas and alternative lifestyles and values.

Keywords

subjectivity self neo-liberalism capitalism power resistance 

References

  1. Arendt, H. (1973). On Revolution. Harmondsworth: Penguin.Google Scholar
  2. Bauman, Z. (1983). Industrialism, Consumerism and Power. Theory, Culture and Society, 1 (3), pp. 32–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Blackman, L. (2001). Hearing Voices: Embodiment and Experience. London: Free Association Books.Google Scholar
  4. Burkitt, I. (2005). Powerful Emotions: Power, Government and Opposition in the “War on Terror”. Sociology, 39 (4), pp. 679–695.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Butler, J. (1997). The Psychic Life of Power: Theories in Subjection. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Cromby, J. and Harper, D. (forthcoming). Paranoia: A Social Account. Theory and Psychology.Google Scholar
  7. Elliott, A. (2002). Identity Politics and Privatisation: Modern Fantasies, Postmodern After-Effects. In Walkerdine, V. (ed.) Challenging Subjects: Critical Psychology for a New Millennium. Basingstoke: Palgrave.Google Scholar
  8. Foucault, M. (1982). Afterword: The Subject and Power. In Dreyfus, H.L. and Rabinow, P. (eds) Michel Foucault: Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics. Brighton: Harvester, pp. 208–226.Google Scholar
  9. Hertz, N. (2001). The Silent Takeover: Global Capitalism and the Death of Democracy. London: Heinemann.Google Scholar
  10. Hook, D. (2001). Discourse, Knowledge, Materiality, History: Foucault and Discourse Analysis. Theory and Psychology, 11 (4), pp. 521–547.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Jameson, F. (1991). Postmodernism, or, the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  12. Klein, N. (2001). No Logo. London: Flamingo.Google Scholar
  13. Melucci, A. (1989). Nomads of the Present: Social Movements and Individual Needs in Contemporary Society. London: Hutchinson Radius.Google Scholar
  14. Partner, M. (forthcoming). Choice and Control: A Study of Governmentality Within Contemporary Learning Disabilities Legislation. MPhil Dissertation. University of Bradford.Google Scholar
  15. Rose, N. (1999). Powers of Freedom: Reframing Political Thought. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Sennett, R. (1998). The Corrosion of Character: The Personal Consequences of Work in the New Capitalism. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.Google Scholar
  17. Venn, C. (2002). Refiguring Subjectivity after Modernity. In Walkerdine, V. (ed.) Challenging Subjects: Critical Psychology for a New Millennium. Basingstoke: Palgrave.Google Scholar
  18. Vološinov, V.N. (1986). Marxism and the Philosophy of Language. Tr. L. Matejka and I. R. Titunik. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  19. Walkerdine, V. (2002). Introduction. In Walkerdine, V. (ed.) Challenging Subjects: Critical Psychology for a New Millennium. Basingstoke: Palgrave.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of BradfordBradfordUK

Personalised recommendations