Changing the Subject: Psychology, Social Regulation, and Subjectivity

By Julian Henriques; Wendy Hollway et al. | Go to book overview

Foreword

Since the publication of Changing the Subject thirteen years ago, the problem of subjectivity and of identity has become even more urgent, central to the remaking of history for postmodern times. Much has changed in between times for theory and for politics, as we have ourselves changed with the times. Whilst we still support the project of challenging and changing the way that the subject is understood in psychology and social theory, we now engage with these problems in different ways and on different terrains. This will be reflected in the points to which we want to draw attention in the Foreword. Our preoccupation is to provide a critical view of the space between the time of the conception of Changing the Subject and the present, hoping in this way to add to the programmatic intention of the book, by indicating a number of directions in which future work could usefully be directed and the kind of conceptual development that would be productive.

Discourses rooted in the notion of a unitary, rational subject still predominate in the social sciences in spite of the critiques which have shown such a concept to be untenable. These critiques have been developed from three standpoints, namely, critical theory and poststructuralist interrogations of the foundations of the discourses of modernity, feminist challenges to the phallocentric and masculinist model of subjectivity privileged in Western theory, and the 'postcolonial' questioning of the affiliations of the logocentric notion of the subject with the ideologies of racism and imperialism. The notion of the unitary, rational subject survives not so much in explicit defences of the model as in the implicit assumptions of various dualisms: social and cognitive, content and process, the intentionality of agents and determination by structures, the subject as constituted or constitutive.

One of the central concerns of Changing the Subject is the

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