The Idea of Deep Surfaces in Cultural Studies

By Laurie Johnson.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper argues that Cultural Studies has tended in the past to arrive inevitably at a methodological impasse by failing to adequately theorise the status of the object of a “cultural” study. The same problem can be identified when culture is theorised (in terms of the so-called Structure-Agency debate) in Anthropology, which would seem to be the obvious point of contact for any interdisciplinary approach to a study of culture. The paper suggests that a dialogue with Psychoanalysis may provide scholars of Cultural Studies with a way to move beyond this impasse. Using basic psychoanalytical theory, it is possible to see that the issue of whether an object is ultimately a product of either deep structures (a cultural process) or an agent (an individual making a thing) remains unresolved while the status of the object remains locked in what I am calling an archaeological paradigm. Using psychoanalytical theory, I propose that the object of Cultural Studies can be seen as an example of a “deep surface” rather than as a deep structure, in order to begin to identify the ways in which deep structures come to be manifest as a result of an individual act of production.

Keywords: Agency, Anthropology, Cultural Studies, Heuristics, Psychoanalysis, Structure, Structure-Agency Debate, Thick Description

International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 3, Issue 12, pp.105-112. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 545.843KB).

Dr. Laurie Johnson

Lecturer in English and Cultural Studies, School of Humanities and Communication, Public Memory Research Centre, University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba, QLD, Australia

Dr. Laurie Johnson is a Lecturer in English and Cultural Studies and a member of the Public Memory Research Centre at the University of Southern Queensland. He is the author of The Wolf Man’s Burden (Cornell UP, 2001) and several articles and book chapters on critical and cultural theory, cultural studies and computer practice, phenomenology, and psychoanalysis.

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