Subjectivity or psycho-discursive practices? Investigating complex intersectional identities

Wetherell, Margaret (2008). Subjectivity or psycho-discursive practices? Investigating complex intersectional identities. Subjectivity, 22(1) pp. 73–81.



This paper considers some of the ways in which the concept of 'subjectivity' has been defined and, in particular, the ways in which it has been contrasted with 'identity'. It argues that given this intellectual history, the concept of subjectivity is a problematic place to begin re-investigating and re-formulating the terrain of the psychological and the social. Problems with notions of subjectivity are particularly vivid in psychoanalytic psycho-social research with its critique of post-structuralist discourse analysis and its re-inscription of interiority. An alternative focus on psycho-discursive practices is recommended. Psycho-discursive practices are recognizable, conventional, collective and social procedures through which character, self, identity, the psychological, the emotional, motives, intentions and beliefs are performed, formulated and constituted. It is argued that qualitative research on identities is now sufficiently sophisticated to be able to leave behind older distinctions between publicly defined 'identity' and the private self evoked by the notion of subjectivity.

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