Subjectivity, ideology and representation

  • Lisa Blackman
  • Valerie Walkerdine


We have argued so far that psychological issues have been a central component of all approaches to the study of media and culture, even when the proponents of those theories have stated their critical distance from psychology. That is, they always implicate the nature and form of the subject in their work. Morley (1992), for example, presents an audience theory resolutely set against what he sees as ‘psychology’ or, more particularly, a universalistic reading of psychoanalysis. While it is important and admirable that he attempts to understand the production of meaning as a dynamic process, he nevertheless invokes a pregiven psychological subject in a given social position, one who is being ‘active’. In other words, like many media theorists who refuse the terrain of the psychological on the grounds of universalism or essentialism, those very features in fact return by the back door. Morley argues, for example:

If we are to theorize the subject of television, it has to be theorised in its cultural and historical specificity, an area where psychoanalytic theory is obviously weak. It is only thus that we can move beyond a theory of the subject which has reference only to universal, primary psychoanalytic processes, and only thus that we can allow a space in which one can recognise that the struggle over ideology also takes place at the moment of the encounter of text and subject and is not always already predetermined at the psychoanalytic level. (Morley 1992: 71)


Frankfurt School Mainstream Psychology Authoritarian Personality Psychological Assumption Black Power Movement 
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© Lisa Blackman and Valerie Walkerdine 2001

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  • Lisa Blackman
  • Valerie Walkerdine

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