, Volume 23, Issue 1, pp 174–187

The Voice Devoid Of Any Accent: Language, Subjectivity, And Social Psychology

Original Article

DOI: 10.1057/sub.2008.11

Cite this article as:
Painter, D. Subjectivity (2008) 23: 174. doi:10.1057/sub.2008.11


This article discusses the materiality of language in relation to subjectivity, politics, and social psychology. Whereas social psychology has traditionally disregarded language, especially in its material dimension as voice, recent decades have seen important developments. The developing “social psychology of language” foregrounds subjectivity as constituted in relation to particular languages and particular ways of speaking these languages, and acknowledges that these particularities are politically encoded. However, an important dimension of the human voice is still being neglected in the social psychology of language, namely the way it is domesticated according to the dominant principle of political and cultural organization in modernity, the nation-state. It is argued that social psychology, through its own conceptual entanglement with the nation-state, is in historical collusion with ideologies that render language visible mainly in national terms, and thus reproduces rather than challenges contemporary constellations of language, subjectivity, and the political.


languagematerialitycorporealitynationalismsocial psychology

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan Ltd 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Stellenbosch UniversityStellenboschSouth Africa