Precarious lives: the production of subjectivity in the contemporary society

de_Grazia_cloudIn the text Frames of war, Judith Butler analyzes the concept of precariousness as generalized human status: we are “precarious lives” because our persistence depends upon social and political forces, that determine our dependency by the world. In the present time, the mechanisms of power that invest ourselves maximize the precariousness, call in to question the sustainable life’s conditions, produce differentiations, invalidate local and fragmentary perspectives. The question that the work seeks to explore is the following: what kind of subjectivity is produced by the intensification of precariousness? According to Judith Butler, the reinforcement of precariousness creates an ontology of individualism, the idea that the self is independent by the social bonds and that the individuality is self-sufficient. The representation of the self, detached from the others social agents, strengthens the techniques of dominion upon the life because produces disintegration, isolation, inability to appear in the social space. At the same time, the subject is never totally subjugated by the norms of power that he reproduces, interiorizing the idea that he can survive alone to the maximization of precariousness. The subject, asserts Michel Foucault, is both shaped by the normative framework of the society and capable to intervene actively upon the norms that regulate his existence. As states Pierre Bourdieu, the social space is a champ in which the agents struggle through different strategies in order to preserve or to change the champ itself. This work requires to answer to the second question: is it possible to create forms of subjectivity capable to contrast the ontology of individualism? Through this interrogative, the work will analyze how the subjectivity can appear in the social space through practices that are able to disturb the political field. According to this statement, the individuality links with a network of lives and, reacting to the precariousness, creates relationships with others agents, moving from the ontology of individualism to social and ethical space of interdependence.


Laura De Grazia,  graduate student
Dipartimento di Civiltà e Forme del Sapere,
Università di Pisa


Informazioni su lboninu

Docente di Lettere presso l’ISIS Carducci Volta Pacinotti di Piombino, Dottore di Ricerca in Storia e Sociologia della Modernità presso il Dipartimento di Scienze Politiche dell’Università di Pisa. I suoi interessi di ricerca riguardano la Sociologia dell’Educazione e le modalità di interazione e costruzione dell’identità in Rete. Dal 2003 gestisce un blog personale, Contaminazioni (, dove racconta le sue passioni: la scuola, la tecnologia, lo studio, la politica , la musica, non necessariamente in quest'ordine.
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