Of Recalcitrant Subjects

Savransky, Martin. 2014. Of Recalcitrant Subjects. Culture, Theory and Critique, 55(1), pp. 96-113. ISSN 1473-5784 [Article]

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This paper problematises some of the assumptions underlying efforts in Governmentality Studies (GS) to theorise the production of subjectivity. By focusing on the GS literature about the role of the ‘psy-disciplines’ in the contemporary production of subjects, and by engaging in discussion with a heterogeneous series of authors such as Bruno Latour, Isabelle Stengers, Gilles Deleuze and Michel Serres, it is argued that there are methodological, epistemic and ontological assumptions underpinning GS's work that result in: (1) a reduction of the material multiplicity of vectors at work in the production of subjectivity; (2) a reproduction of the subject–object distinction also common in conventional accounts of psychology and psychotherapy; and (3) the conceptualisation of ‘governable subjects’, who are nothing but epiphenomena of their vectors of production. The problematisation of such assumptions allows for the possibility of rethinking the formation of subjectivity, that is, of encountering recalcitrant subjects who may resist specific forms of subjectification, and also ask new questions, thereby potentially resulting in unexpected, novel forms of subjectivity. Finally, the notion of ‘ecology of questions’ is offered as an alternative exploration of the production of subjects.

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6 August 2013Published Online

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28 Oct 2014 15:23

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10 Nov 2020 17:27

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



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