Radically reconstituting the subject: social theory and human nature

O'Donnell, M.H. 2003. Radically reconstituting the subject: social theory and human nature. Sociology. 37 (4), pp. 753-770.

TitleRadically reconstituting the subject: social theory and human nature
AuthorsO'Donnell, M.H.
Abstract

This article analyses some assumptions about human nature and subject agency apparent in two approaches to social theory: liberalism, particularly Giddens, and structuralism/poststructuralism, particularly Foucault. Feminist and Critical Theory are also drawn on. Disagreements between these approaches in relation to subject agency and structural influence are noted but an attempt is made to find complementary and common ground and to that extent to reconcile them. In so far as an integrated theoretical approach is achievable from the work of Foucault and Giddens, it is suggested that the term radical liberal best describes it. Nevertheless, this term sits more comfortably with Giddens than Foucault. I seek critical leverage on both thinkers by adopting an explicitly Freudian view of human capacities and a politically egalitarian perspective. Copyright 2003 SAGE Publications. All rights reserved. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution.

KeywordsAgency, structure, determinism, voluntarism, human capacities, liberalism, post, structuralism, radicalism, subject
JournalSociology
Journal citation37 (4), pp. 753-770
ISSN0038-0385
YearNov 2003
FileO'Donnell_2003_final.pdf
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)doi:10.1177/00380385030374007
Publication dates
PublishedNov 2003

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