Review essay: The locus of subjectivity in cultural studies

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I offer an interpretation of Ernst E. Boesch's theory of symbolic action focusing on the usually overlooked phenomenological and existential aspects of this cultural-psychological approach. This interpretation raises the more general question about the role that subjectivity plays in cultural- psychological studies. It is argued that, depending on the concept of meaning that is assumed, cultural studies can be divided in to two main streams, namely the hermeneutic-historicist and the phenomenological-existentialist perspectives. The theoretical consequence of this dual program is the so-called 'micromacro problem'. Boesch's concept of action field is interpreted here as a meso-unit: it is unfolded within an objective system of reference; but at the same time, it is oriented toward the future from the personal perspective of a subject. This existential aspect of Boesch's theory serves to illustrate the theoretical need for the consideration of the phenomenological dimension in cultural studies. Copyright © 2007 SAGE Publications.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)243-256
Number of pages14
JournalCulture and Psychology
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2007
Externally publishedYes

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