Getting Over the Self: The Decentered Subject and Contemporary Political Theory

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Virginia Tech

Regardless of one's position on what has come to be called postmodern theory, there is no denying that this theoretical perspective is challenging the legitimacy of many of the traditional concepts of political and social theory. Foremost among these challenges is the opposition that postmodern theory pose to any attempt to provide foundational certainty on which subjectivity, our sense of who we are and our place in the world, can be established.

This thesis explores this postmodern "decentering" of subjectivity and argues that is a useful insight for contemporary political theory. Using the work of Judith Butler and William Connolly, I argue that a perspective that refuses to assume any foundational premises on which essential subjectivity can be established leads to a more ethical negotiation of difference and, ultimately, to a re-invigorated democratic ethos that allows for multifarious ways of being to be politically recognized.

Postmodernism, Identity, Political Theory, Subjectivity