Postmodern Identities (2)

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  • 1. Cultural Identities postmodern selves – stuart hall
  • 2. The enlightenment subject
    • Hall charts the progress of three epochal subjects:
      • The enlightenment subject is endowed with the capacities of reason, consciousness, and action, whose ‘centre’ consists of an inner core which first emerged when the subject was born, and unfolded with it while remaining essentially the same throughout the individual existence.
  • 3. The sociological subject
      • The sociological subject was formed in relation to ‘significant others’. Identity, in this conception, bridges the gap between the ‘inside’ and the ‘outside’ – between the personal and the public worlds.
  • 4. The sociological subject: Giddens
    • Giddens: self- and social identity
    • Self-identity is not a distinctive trait, or even a collection of traits, possessed by the individual. It is the self as reflexively understood by the person in terms of her or his biography . (1991:53)
    • Social identities … are associated with normative rights, obligations and sanctions which, within special collectivities, form roles. The use of standardised markers, especially to do with the bodily attributes of age and gender, is fundamental to all societies, notwithstanding large cross-cultural variation which can be noted. (1984: 282-30)
  • 5. The postmodern subject
      • The post-modern subject is historical not biologically defined. The subject assumes different identities at different times, identities which are not unified around a coherent ‘self’.
  • 6. ‘ ruptures’: marxism
    • Five ‘Ruptures in the discourses of modern knowledge’ (Hall, 1990: 285) have contributed to this de-centred subject:
    • Marxism
    • In Louis Althusser ´s interpretation of Marx´s writings he negates individuals as the ‘authors’ or agents of history, since they could only act on the basis of historical conditions made by others into which they were born, and using the resources provided to them from previous generations.
  • 7. ‘ruptures’: psychoanalysis
      • Psychoanalysis
      • In Jacques Lacan ´s reading of Freud identity is something formed through unconscious processes over time, rather than being innate in consciousness at birth.
  • 8. ‘ruptures’: feminism
      • The impact of feminism questioned the classic distinction between ‘inside’ and ‘outside’, ‘private’ and ‘public’, and replaced the idea of a coherent subject by introducing the notion of sexual difference.
  • 9. ‘ ruptures’: language and discourse
      • Language and discourse
      • The structural linguist de Saussure reasons that the subject is not in any absolute sense the ‘author’ of statements we express in language, since language is a social, not an individual system.
  • 10. ‘ruptures’: Foucault (1)
      • Foucault
      • In Foucault's writings the all-encompassing character of the administrative ‘disciplinary power’ illustrated the paradox that the more collective and organized the nature of the institutions of late-modernity is, the greater the isolation, surveillance, and individuation of the individual subject.
  • 11. ‘ ruptures’: Foucault (2)
      • Foucault
        • Discourse
        • Power
        • History
        • Subjects
  • 12. ‘ruptures’: Foucault (3)
      • Statements about madness which give us knowledge about madness;
      • The rules which prescribe what is ‘sayable’ or ‘thinkable’ about madness;
      • Subjects who personify the discourses of madness, i.e. the ‘madman’;
      • The processes by which discourses of madness acquire authority and truth at a given historical moment;
      • The practices within institutions which deal with madness;
      • The idea that different discourses about madness will appear at late historical moments, producing new knowledge and a new discursive formation.
      • Barker, C. (2000) Cultural Studies. London Sage: 78-79
  • 13. ‘ruptures’: Foucault (4)
    • Bodies are subject to the regulatory power of discourse
    • Through discourse bodies become subjects for themselves and for others
    • Hence Foucault can talk of subjectivity as formed within the subject positions of discourse.
  • 14. ‘ruptures’: Foucault (5)
    • ‘ [Foucault’s approach] suggests that discourses themselves construct the subject-positions from which they become meaningful and have effects. Individuals may differ … but they will not be able to take meaning until they have been able to identify with those positions which the discourse constructs, subjected themselves to its rules, and hence become the subjects of its power/knowledge .
    • Hall (1997): 56
  • 15. Essentialism and anti-essentialism
      • Essentialism: Identity is the name for a collective ‘one true self’, formed from a common ancestry, history and symbolic resources. Example: ‘American identity’.
      • Black American … Black African … Black …?
      • The ‘articulation’ of situated identities