Lacanian Theory

Ideology, Enjoyment, and the Spirits of Capitalism

Authored by: Yannis Stavrakakis

Routledge International Handbook of Contemporary Social and Political Theory

Print publication date:  March  2011
Online publication date:  March  2011

Print ISBN: 9780415548250
eBook ISBN: 9780203875575
Adobe ISBN: 9781135997946


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Every attempt to use psychoanalytic categories and logics in social and political theorization and analysis inevitably raises the spectre of psychological reductionism. Yet, already from the early days of the psychoanalytic movement, every new realization of the limits of mainstream socio-political explanations – especially of the rationalistic and deterministic tendecies implicit in them – shifted attention to the insights psychoanalysis could offer. It was to psychoanalysis the Frankfurt School turned in order to account for the unexpected lure of Nazi ideology and the ‘failure’ of the Enlightenment project it signalled. Likewise, in the 1960s, it was to psychoanalysis that Louis Althusser turned in order to grasp the role of ideology in producing docile social subjects and in limiting the scope of resistance. The Lacanian Left, an expanding group of critical theorists and philosophers appreciative of the work of the French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan and determined to explore its numerous socio-political implications, is today shaping this orientation with a dynamism similar to that of the Freudian Left, 1 but with very different preoccupations and priorities.

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