Encyclopedia of Critical Psychology

2014 Edition
| Editors: Thomas Teo


  • Oliver Harrison
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-5583-7_302


The subject is a perennial issue in the social sciences (Williams, 2001) and certainly one of the most debated. Following the work of René Descartes, its modern philosophical conception attempted to secure a scientific basis for knowledge. In social and political theory, attention shifted to a variety of issues, particularly the liberal concern regarding the relationship between the individual and the state. Psychologically, too, notions of the subject were frequently combined with social and political analysis. After outlining these foundational philosophical, political, and psychological debates, this entry will consider the critique of the subject characteristic of late twentieth century thought, culminating in its so-called “death.” Finally, it will outline contemporary post-Marxist attempts to rethink the notion, particularly with respect to its collective-revolutionary form.


According to Michel Foucault (1988), there are two meanings of the word subject:...

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Social SciencesNottingham Trent UniversityNottinghamUK