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Critical Review Of Two Articles With The Concept Of Interpellation

1747 words - 7 pages

When creating the title for their book, which is dedicated to Stuart Hall, perhaps Paul Gilroy, Lawrence Grossberg and Angela McRobbie did not know that they not only found an exact citation to summarise all the works of this influencing cultural theorists, but also proposed the best phrase to describe Cultural Studies, that is "without guarantee". Indeed, Cultural Studies devotes itself to questioning knowledge "guaranteed" to be true in society and more important, to continuously raising debates as its fundamental method to avoid any "guaranteed" answer. As a central concept of Cultural Studies, "interpellation" precisely reflects those features. First proposed by Louis Althusser in his essay "Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses (Notes Towards an Investigation)" (1971), "interpellation" was defined as a process through which concrete individuals are addressed by ideology and then are produced as subjects. Since Althusser referred to churches, schools, family, communications, to name only a few, as a set of institutions practicing this function of ideology, he challenged social norms which seem to "naturally" come to us from those familiar environments. Although the concept has opened a new epoch in the research of identity, it has still subjected to several critical discussions for further developments. Through their selected works below, Mladen Dolar and John Law contributes to those debates two points of view on the ways in which interpellation is operated within our society and within each individual.
The essay "Beyond Interpellation" (1993) of Mladen Dolar is largely based on his obsession of "a clean cut which can be followed on different levels" (p.75) existing in Althusserian theory. Dolar (1993) recognises this "clean cut" first in ideology's two-part structure, which has materiality of states apparatuses or exteriority on the one hand and interpellation or interiority on the other. These two parts, as he interprets Althusser, rule each other out in a way that "the external conditions of ideology cannot be comprehended from within ideology, the institution of interiority necessarily brings about the denial, or better a disavowal of external origin." (1993, p.76) It is in this acknowledgement are located an assumption that ideology and science are two opposed concepts and that science as the grasping of materiality is the suspension of interpellation. In other words, interpellation model of Althusser could be labelled as "either - or alternative", that is, "either the materiality or subjectivity; either the exterior or the interior." (Dolar 1993, p. 77). However, this distinction apparently becomes problematic when being applied to analysis the complicated situation of a theoretician who engages with scientific work and thus takes a non-subject position , yet "is as much of an (ideological) subject as anybody else, the illusion being constitute for any kind of subjectivity and thus ineluctable" as "he cannot escape.. his...

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