What captivates the subject? an investigation of the concepts 'object' and 'identification' in the works of Lacan with a view to establishing approaches for the analysis of relations of power and structures of authority

Research output: Book/ReportPh.D. thesisResearch


What can Jacques Lacan tell us about relations of power and figures of authority? – That is the guiding question of "What Captivates the Subject?" The dissertation answers this question by providing a close study of Lacanian texts and seminars from 1953 to 1973, seeking to present not only the strong conceptual coherency of Lacan’s theory, but also its fundamental underpinnings in the work of Sigmund Freud.
The dissertation thus attempts to pave the way for a renewed engagement between Lacanian theory and social theory in general. This engagement has already proven exceptionally fruitful in recent years, where research emerging from Slovenia has been developing a new Lacanian approach to the analysis of a wide range of social products and political affairs. The dissertation follows in the wake of this new movement but pursues its own line of reasoning in so far as it undertakes to account for two concepts central to the technical psychoanalytical vocabulary: identification and the object.
Identifications and the relation to libidinal objects were acknowledged by Freud as the most fundamental mechanisms in the social life of any human being, just as he regarded them as fundamental to the establishment and maintenance of power structures, not least within the psychoanalytic clinic itself. Yet his accounts of the concepts remain blurry and tentative throughout his career, and it took a Lacan to finally build a rigorous theoretical framework around these concepts.
Throughout the dissertation, close readings of Lacan are followed by short interventions into questions of social or political theory, so that the potential of Lacan’s theory for clarifying issues or bringing to light novel perspectives is demonstrated. For instance, not only can Lacan tell us about the inherent paradoxes of authority and power in a classroom, he can also tell us why the most powerful figure of authority may be the one who shows clear signs of weakness, or why the most unshakeable way of identifying with a framework of social values is by identifying while maintaining a distance to it.
Translated title of the contributionHvad holder subjektet fangen?: En undersøgelse af begreberne 'objekt' og 'identifikation' i Jacques Lacans værk med henblik på at etablere tilgange til analysen af magtrelationer og autoritetsstrukturer
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationKøbenhavn
PublisherInstitut for Uddannelse og Pædagogik (DPU), Aarhus Universitet
Number of pages232
ISBN (Print)9788776849016
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes

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