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Haunting in an age of individualization

Roseneil, Sasha (2009) Haunting in an age of individualization. European Societies 11 (3), pp. 411-430. ISSN 1461-6696.

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This paper uses the notion of 'haunting' to explore how even those who might be considered to be particularly individualized are inhabited by the traces of the lives of others. The paper works with a single detailed case study taken from UK based research on the personal lives and values of people living outside the conventional cohabiting couple. It develops a psycho-social-analysis of interviews with Ben, a black English man in his 50s who is a 'strong' case of the individualization of personal life. Ben represents himself as highly self-reliant and self-sufficient, yet his narratives repeatedly return to the central importance of his long dead father; the paper suggests that his interviews, and his subjectivity, are 'haunted' by the ghost of his father. It explores the ways in which conflicted issues of gendered and racialized belonging and identification, and questions of ethical subjectivity, are worked out in relation to his dead father. The paper is informed by psychoanalytic and sociological writing on psychic and socio-cultural processes of haunting, particularly the work of Christopher Bollas and Avery Gordon. It contributes to the re-thinking of sociological theories of individualization, challenging sociology to take seriously a psychoanalytically inspired ontology of relationality, and the impacts of past relationships on subjectivity.

Item Type: Article
Keyword(s) / Subject(s): haunting, individualization, subjectivity, relationality, psycho-social studies, psychoanalysis, racialized belonging, masculinity
School or Research Centre: Birkbeck Schools and Research Centres > School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy > Psychosocial Studies
Depositing User: Administrator
Date Deposited: 11 Jan 2011 11:38
Last Modified: 17 Apr 2013 12:18

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