Human agency and human geography revisited: A critique of 'new models' of the self.
Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 18(1),
In this paper, I argue that 'new models' of human geography have produced a one-sided account of society and space; and that this is because of their conceptual splitting of 'the social' into structure and agency. The essay begins with a discussion of the search for the self conducted by humanistic geographers, then describes the marginalization of this search in the early 1980s and the subsequent development of humanistic and historical materialist geography. I show that each has developed its own variant of the same understanding of the relationship between structure and agency. I suggest that it is inconceivable that the self can be understood, and therefore that a truly human geography can be imagined, without drawing on the insights of psychoanalysis because it offers a theory of the self which neither denies, nor relies on, a
structure-agency dichotomy. Finally, I demonstrate psychoanalysis's deeper understanding of the self by returning to themes already raised by geographers, but concentrating on two aspects of the (fragmented) self: the 'unknowing' subject, and subject formation.
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