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Reconstruction of modern social theory and the unconscious dimension of the social.

Kanakis, Leledakis (1993) Reconstruction of modern social theory and the unconscious dimension of the social. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science (United Kingdom).

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Abstract

Through a discussion of Marx in particular and an extended overview of social theory in general the central questions from which I start are posed: Rejecting individualist models of the social (either positivist or hermeneutic) as also teleological accounts of it, structural/objectivist models such as early Parsons' or Althusser's are considered to be the most advanced. However, these approaches cannot theorise either the emergence of the new in history or the possibility of active agency from the part of social actors. Both problems are closely interwoven with the conceptualisation of the social as closed and fully determinable structural entities. An alternative approach theorising social structural entities as open, and thus avoiding these problems is identified. It can be seen as evolving from the general statements of Derrida to the specific theorisations of the social presented by Laclau and Mouffe and, in a more developed way, by Castoriadis (who provides also a theorisation of "autonomy"). However, the way this "openness" should be theorised remains unclarified. To avoid conceiving it as operating on a transcendental level, it has to be located within the (re)production of the social through individual action, i.e. within a theory of "structuration". Such theories of structuration have been presented by Gid-dens and Bourdieu, but in a partial and insufficient way. However, the connection between the openness of the social and the modality of the (individual) unconscious Cas-toriadis refers to, indicates an alternative. This alternative is explored through an analysis of Freud and psychoanalytic theory. It is argued that the psychoanalytic theorisation of the psyche provides a theory of the reproduction of the social through the individual. The necessary indeterminacy implied by the operation of this reproduction partly through the (individual) unconscious (a level with a specific modality), and the relative autonomy of the conscious/rational ego imply that this reproduction is never fully determined. Thus the "openness" of the social can be more precisely conceptualised and the questions of agency and history can be addressed in a more fruitful way.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Philosophy, Sociology, Theory and Methods
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses
URI: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/2098

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