Självet och subjektets svårgripbara nödvändighet: utkast till en socialpsykologisk kritik av Judith Butler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In her widely cited and criticised Gender trouble, Judith Butler (1990) elaborated the thought that gender needs to be understood as performative – a certain kind of doing behind the bars of a hegemonic heterosexual imperative that governs intelligible bodily configurations. Drawing mainly on psychoanalytical and foucauldian arguments, Butler dwells upon numerous important questions concerning power and subjectivity while arguing that subjects need to conform to the heterosexual matrix in order to gain intelligibility. However, she does not manage to emphasize the importance of situating neither the subject nor the body in a social reality. Due to the problematic and sometimes unclear differentiation between the concepts of performance and performativity as well as the somewhat obscure idea of subjectivity, self and corporeality that are put forward in Butler’s theorizing, it is here argued that her theoretical framework needs to be re-conceptualized from the viewpoint of social psychology. Combining a theoretical framework that draws upon Butler (1990; 1993; 1997a and 1997b) with a symbolic interactionist perspective (Blumer 1969; Mead, 1995), this paper aims at locating intersections, gaps and similarities between these rather disparate perspectives. Initiating such a venture, the argument pursued in this paper revolves around the concept of social self and the ways this concept possibly can elaborate Butler’s theory. It is argued that a social psychological take on butlerian thinking can enhance and further elaborate an understanding of the processes involved in the doing of gender.


  • Martin Berg
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)


  • social psychology, queer theory, Judith Butler, George Herbert Mead, the self, subjectivity, subjektivitet, queerteori, självet, sociologi, sociology, socialpsykologi
Translated title of the contributionThe self and the elusive necessity of the subject: outline of a social psychological critique of Judith Butler.
Original languageSwedish
Pages (from-to)7-24
JournalLambda Nordica
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2006
Publication categoryResearch