Maurizzio Lazzarato

Capitalism and the Production og Subjectivity

Subjectification (French: subjectivation) is a philosophical concept coined by Michel Foucault and elaborated by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari. It refers to the construction of the individual subject. The concept has been often used in critical theory, sometimes with Louis Althusser’s concept of interpellation. In Gilbert Simondon’s theory of individuation, subjectification precedes the subject in the same way as the process of individuation precedes the creation of the individual. While the classical notion of a subject considers it as a term, Foucault considered the process of subjectification to have an ontological pre-eminence on the subject as a term.

One can be ‘enslaved’ or ‘subjected’ to a machine (whether it be technical, social, communicational, etc.) We are enslaved to a machine when we are a cog in the wheels, one of the constituent parts enabling the machine to function. We are subjected to the machine when, constituted as its users, we are defined purely by the actions that use of the machine demands. Subjection operates at the molar level of the individual (its social dimension, the roles, functions, representations and affections). Enslavement on the other hand operates at the molecular (or pre-individual or infrasocial) level (affects, sensations, desires, those relationships not yet individuated or assigned to a subject). I will try to illustrate the features that characterize these devices of enslavement and subjection, by examining how they function in the television “machine”.

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