Althusser Against Foucault

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Where Does The Subject Come From? Text creates, molds, and persuades. Text can be simple and mundane like a shampoo article in a magazine or it can be provocative and sensual like an Abercrombie and Fitch advertisement. Either way, text has the power to position the subject (the targeted audience) in such a way that he or she cannot adopt an alternative position without feeling strange or left out. By this point, people have begun to accept the world based on ideologies. According to Marxist philosopher Louis Althusser, the subject has been created from interpellation; a process of identifying oneself to a particular idea or identity. On the other hand, Michel Foucault, once a pupil of Althusser, describes the same subject as an effect of power and disciplines. Rather than pondering about who to side with now, both concepts will be further analyzed. First of all, text can take on many forms; thus, it uses this to its advantage to reaffirm subject positions in ideology. Text can act as a product or even as one of the transforming forces in existing institutions and social practices. From “Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses,” Louis Althusser stresses how much “ideology has always-already interpellated individuals as subjects, which amounts to making it clear that individuals are always-already interpellated by ideology as subjects, which necessarily leads us to one last proposition: individuals are always-already subjects”(5). In other words, people have expectations of others before they are even born due to their gender, class, and family history. Boys must play basketball and be masculine while girls ice skate. People simply cannot escape the grasp of ideology in the eyes of Althusser. In addition, ideology resides not only in the minds of people, but also within texts. For example, texts contain two aspects: the message of the text and the text’s code.
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