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

Subjectivity, Self and Everyday Life in Contemporary Capitalism

  • Ian BurkittEmail author
Original Article


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.


subjectivity self neo-liberalism capitalism power resistance 


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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of BradfordBradfordUK

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