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Subjectivity and its discontents: Theories of subjectivity and contemporary cultural contexts

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posted on 2022-11-01, 05:53 authored by Patricia K L Goon

This thesis aims to examine the notion of subjectivity in terms of the theories posed by specific schools of thought, particularly with regard to the notion of resistance within the contexts of contemporary culture. It will be concerned primarily with the theories of Jacques Lacan, Michel Foucault, Judith Butler, Donna Haraway, Pierre Bourdieu and Michel de Certeau, as well as the contributions made by Theodor Adorno and Walter Benjamin.

The thesis begins with a discussion of theories which consider subjectivity as a narrative of commoditisation that sets up the potential for both violence and resistance. These theories include Lacanian psychoanalysis, Foucault's notion of power as production and prohibition, Bourdieu's theory of habitus and Butler's notion of performativity, all of which highlight the central issues of commoditisation and contingency as subjectivity's inherent anxiety or 'discontents'. The notion of the cyborg, a primary symptom of this anxiety in postcolonial times, is central to the project's argument of a recursive subjectivising process which must necessarily involve violence, if it is to provide any possibility for emancipation. The thesis goes on to examine the processes of contemporary cultural commoditisation in relation to the hegemonies cultivated by technology and the culture industry, using specific texts from the popular culture genres of science-fiction film and manga.


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Central Queensland University

Place of Publication

Rockhampton, Queensland

Open Access

  • Yes

Era Eligible

  • No


Associate Professor Anthony Schirato ; Dr Susan Yell

Thesis Type

  • Doctoral Thesis

Thesis Format

  • By publication