Jacques Lacan and the Theory of the Religious Subject

Jacques Lacan and the Theory of the Religious Subject Jacques Lacan’s theory of the subject is put forward in order to correct what the author calls “the naïve theory of the subject,” which sociologists of religion tend to utilize by default in numerous quantitative sociological studies based on mass surveys and oriented towards obtaining exact, scientific, positivistic knowledge. This article applies Lacan’s three registers—Imaginary, Symbolic, and Real—to the religious sphere and demonstrates their potential implications for the sociological analysis of religion. An analysis of the empirical research on Russia’s post-Soviet religious situation reinforces the author’s argument that an uncritical theory of the subject attends only to the superficial layers of the subject, which end up being devoid of actual subjectivity, according to Lacanian logic. The more fundamental layers of the subject, capable of making it “the subject” in the full sense of the word, seem to be completely outside of sociologists’ current field of vision. This critique directs the reader’s attention to the shortcomings of sociological surveys, and the author argues that a more robust understanding of the subject could enrich the sociology of religion, particularly by further developing certain conceptions, such as Grace Davie’s “vicarious religion.” http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Method & Theory in the Study of Religion Brill

Jacques Lacan and the Theory of the Religious Subject

Method & Theory in the Study of Religion, Volume 29 (1): 26 – Feb 8, 2017

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Publisher
Brill
Copyright
Copyright © Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands
ISSN
0943-3058
eISSN
1570-0682
DOI
10.1163/15700682-12341380
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Jacques Lacan’s theory of the subject is put forward in order to correct what the author calls “the naïve theory of the subject,” which sociologists of religion tend to utilize by default in numerous quantitative sociological studies based on mass surveys and oriented towards obtaining exact, scientific, positivistic knowledge. This article applies Lacan’s three registers—Imaginary, Symbolic, and Real—to the religious sphere and demonstrates their potential implications for the sociological analysis of religion. An analysis of the empirical research on Russia’s post-Soviet religious situation reinforces the author’s argument that an uncritical theory of the subject attends only to the superficial layers of the subject, which end up being devoid of actual subjectivity, according to Lacanian logic. The more fundamental layers of the subject, capable of making it “the subject” in the full sense of the word, seem to be completely outside of sociologists’ current field of vision. This critique directs the reader’s attention to the shortcomings of sociological surveys, and the author argues that a more robust understanding of the subject could enrich the sociology of religion, particularly by further developing certain conceptions, such as Grace Davie’s “vicarious religion.”

Journal

Method & Theory in the Study of ReligionBrill

Published: Feb 8, 2017

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