In the ruins of representation: Identity, individuality, subjectification


Correspondence should be addressed to Dr Dimitris Papadopoulos, Cardiff University, School of Social Sciences, Glamorgan Building, King Edward VII Ave, Cardiff CF10 3WT, UK (e-mail:


This paper explores a threefold shift in our understanding of identity formation and self-relationality: from an essentialist understanding of identity, to discursive and constructivist approaches, to, finally, the notion of embodied subjectification. The main target of this paper is to historicize these ideas and to localize them in the current social and political conditions of North-Atlantic societies. The core argument is that these three steps in reformulating the concept of identity correspond to an emerging form of subjectivity, affirmative subjectivity, which is bound to the proliferation of the post-Fordist reorganization of the social and political realm. The three theoretical shifts and their social situatedness will be illustrated through a rereading of some ideas from Lev S. Vygotsky's late theory, Michel Foucault's account of government and Jacques Rancière's political philosophy.