Relation between Individual and Society
The relation between the individual and the collective has occupied . Labor in Society Durkheim ( ) describes two forms of relation between .. of subjectivity (i.e., the impersonal “one” and the reciprocal subject). The relationship between individual and society is ultimately one of the profound Utilitarianism has often been described as individualistic, but Rawls argues. referencing in particular the reciprocal relationship between the self and the social explanation of the reciprocal nature of individual identity development and Anderson, who described the nation as an “imagined community” because of.
However, from onward he defines it in terms of the subject of speech and the Symbolic Other. However, through a close reading of both Lacan's early writings and their Durkheimian influences we will demonstrate that what has changed, is Lacan's conceptualization of the relation between the individual and the collective. This change was gradual rather than sudden.
Moreover, it can be situated within the theoretical evolution of the contiguous fields of sociology, anthropology and psychoanalysis. Thus we reject the idea of a breach within his own thought and with what came before him. We will establish our point through a summary of how the relation between the individual and the collective was theorized before Lacan.
Durkheim conceptualized this relation as dual: Mauss attempted to unify the field of anthropology through the holistic concept of the total man.
- Individual and Society
Finally, a reading of Lacan's publications concerning the notion of the logic of the collective will testify to his attempts at formulating a notion of the subject that asserts itself against this collective while at the same time retaining its nature of a logical function. This is the conundrum that Lacan will confront time and again throughout his teachings. In this paper we reject the notion of a radical shift from the Imaginary to the Symbolic.
What is more, we defend the idea that Lacan's evolving conceptual framework can be situated within a broader intellectual history of anthropological and sociological thought concerning the relation between the individual and the collective.
Hence, we neither accept a breach within his own thought, nor with what came before him. The relation between the individual and the collective has occupied psychoanalysis since Freud's writings on group psychology Freud,  and has been carried on by psychoanalysts such as Bion and Rickman, both of whom have influenced Lacan .
However, it has also been one of the tenets of sociology and anthropology. The notion of individuality and the influence of the collective is central in Durkheim's work, which ended in an impasse where both were radically separated.
Durkheim and lacan on the family As both Freud  and Lacan  noted, the foundations for man's social life, and thus his relation to the collective, are laid down in the family. Zafiropoulos states that Lacan was influenced by Durkheim in his writings on the family. We will therefore subject Durkheim's teachings on the family to a close reading and compare it with Lacan's paper on the family complexes.
Durkheim on the contraction of the family Durkheim stated that the family is a social institution subject to a cultural evolution, with the conjugal family as its final conclusion. It is not merely a biological affair, but has moral and judicial implications which are protected by the collective in which the family is embedded.
The evolution of the institution of the family is determined by what Durkheim  calls the law of contraction: The historical starting point of the family is the clan. In this social structure a totem or alleged forefather is responsible for the creation of society and forms the center of family life.
Members of a clan were both relatives and fellow citizens Lamanna, In these societies there was no notion of an individual and the different members of the group were hardly distinguished from one another. Only when the clan ceased to be nomadic and started to attach value to the territory on which it lived, did family and clan become two separate entities. A broad, amorphous family system became distinguished from a political and territorial clan organization Durkheim, .
Families with a patrilineal or matrilineal structure originated within the clan Durkheim, . A further contraction was realized by the agnatic families, which were smaller and more egalitarian than the totem based families. These families were centered around shared possessions, rather than religion and could be either patrilineal or matrilineal. This differs from the Roman, patriarchal families, which were strictly patrilineal and governed by the principle of patria potestas.
The father represented the group and his authority over its members and possessions was absolute. This contrasts with the German paternal family where paternal dominance was less strict. The son could emancipate himself and leave the family on his own accord. The conjugal family is the family structure discerned by Durkheim in French society of his day.
It is a further contraction of the paternal rather than of the patriarchal family as the latter was too strict to allow for any further contraction. The only permanent elements within this system are husband and wife, although secondary zones of kinship i.
A child is dependent on its father until it is married. As Zafiropoulos correctly points out, with the contraction of the family the disciplinary rights of the father have greatly diminished. However, the interference of the state has increased. In France as of the father can even be set out of this paternal rights by the state. According to Durkheim, state intervention was a necessary prerequisite for the existence of the conjugal family.
Whereas kinship relations in societies constituted by patriarchal families could only be broken off under the authority of the father, in the case of those based on the conjugal family the state must provide its approval in cases of divorce or adoption.
Durkheim warns us however that with the contraction of the family, individuality and the pursuit of purely individual goals have increased. Yet, according to Lamanna Durkheim is not necessarily pessimistic where it concerns the increase of individuality and the decrease of paternal authority.
The former gave rise to individual freedom and the latter consolidated the ties between the members of society through state intervention. Lacan on the family complexes According to Zafiropoulos Lacan was heavily influenced by Durkheim's writings on the family when he wrote his own contribution on the family complexes Lacan, . Lacan states that the process of subjective development is structured by three fundamental complexes which center around three imagoes: The structuring of these complexes takes place within the family as a historically determined institution.
As a consequence the Oedipus complex in Western society has started to falter, which explains the burgeoning of modern forms of psychopathology such as the character neuroses.
Relationship between Individual and Society
This complex originates from the separation of the infant from the womb, which, for man, is always a premature separation. The repercussion of its prematurity is the universally shared call of the young human for the social group, and in the first place the family, which is in fact a call for some sort of social function which meets the needs emanating from this vital insufficiency of the first years.
The first form this social connection with the outside world takes on is the imago of the mother as a sublimation of the mother, a bringing into form and recognizing her as an answer to the vital insufficiency. It is the first connection to the other the infant makes. It is also the connection upon which all the consecutive connections with the other will be made. A successful transition of the weaning complex is therefore paramount to social development.
As important as the imago of the mother is, it is marked by a strange ambivalence. The longing for the maternal imago can become a longing for the state before birth, and as such instigate the death drive. Because of this ambivalence the lure of death, of a return to the tranquil, inanimate state of life before birth, remains present in the ambiguous form of the imago of the mother.
The complex of intrusion offers a solution to these summons of death through a confrontation with the double, archetypally represented in the form of the brother. This complex roused by the first realization of the presence of a sibling, and of the feelings of jealousy concerning the mother this provokes. Lacan cautions us that we must not confuse human jealousy with biological rivalry. For at its most fundamental, jealousy presupposes mental identification.
Lacan considers identification as primary, the aggressiveness it provokes as secondary. Lacan's description of the complex of intrusion is an early form of his theory on the mirror stage Lacan, .
He states that through the recognition of its own image in the mirror the human infant regains the unity it once experienced in utero. At the same time the body is experienced as unity, the world, which was equally perceived as fragmented, is organized by reflecting the forms of the body.
Consequently, Lacan declares the mirror image to be a good symbol for the reality as it is experienced at that moment in human development. Indeed, the experience of the other as a mirror image does not help the subject to break through the affective isolation caused by its prematurity.
However, as the formation of the ego through identification with an external image occurs, the drama of jealousy and sibling rivalry is being played out. Identification with the unweaned sibling provokes aggressiveness because it triggers the maternal imago and thus the desire for death.
This is why Lacan states that aggressiveness is secondary to identification: However, this primary masochism can be overcome if it is transformed into sadism in the form of rivalry.
Through identification the infant can fix one of the poles of primary masochism and turn it into aggressiveness toward the unweaned sibling. Consequently the other is recognized as truly other. This is why Lacan states that jealousy is the archetype of all social sentiments. However, the complex of intrusion can also end in an imaginary impasse where the ego and the alter-ego are not distinguished. This can lead to serious forms of psychopathology e.
Finally, the Oedipus complex installs two fundamental, psychological instances: Contrary to Freudian doctrine, which recognizes the father as the primary agent of castration, Lacan states that the original cause for repression stems from the lure of death present in the imago of the mother.
The sexual desires of the Oedipus complex re-activate the desire for the mother and thus the ancient death drive which is thereupon repressed. The father, as the one who opposes this desire for the mother, figures only as a secondary source for repression. As such, repression paves the way for yet another form of identification with the rival, but this time as an Ego-ideal: However, Lacan remarks that not every society accords the same place to the father and its successful development depends largely on the extent to which both the repressive and the sublimatory functions are united in the imago of the father.
In the Trobriand of Melanesia, for example, the repressive function is attributed to the maternal uncle, the sublimatory function to the biological father. The effect is a relative absence of neurosis and a great rigidity on the level of cultural productions. When this happens the dialectic of sublimation is negated and libidinal energy exhausted, which eventually leads to character neurosis.
Zafiropoulos states that Lacan's views betray a Durkheimian influence because he links the degradation of the Oedipus complex to the contraction of the family. The author claims that Lacan is strictly non-Freudian as long as he is influenced by Durkheim. In Totem and Taboo Freud  stated that human society commenced with the murder of the primal father. As such, the degraded, dead father is at the foundation of every human society and not a historical contingency.
Second, we have seen that with the contraction of the family there has been a shift in authority from the father to the state. Even if Durkheim writes about the degradation of the father, he takes into account other forms of authority and law. When discussing Durkheim's views on the relation between the individual and the collective, we will see that this shift can be explained by an evolution in this relation. And last but certainly not least, we have difficulty accepting that such a slow and arduous process as the evolution of one's thinking, Lacan's in this case, is marked by sudden revolutions.
During an analysis something can befall the patient and create a new insight—but every analyst knows that revolutions are very rare in the consulting room. There is always the process of working through to take into account. In what follows, we will present the reader with the evolution of the conceptualization of the relation between the subject and the Other in sociological terms: This point of view will better allow us to link the gradual evolution of Lacan's thinking to the developments in sociology and anthropology that preceded him.
Durkheim and the opposition between individual and collective In The Division of Labor in Society Durkheim  describes two forms of relation between the individual and the collective: Between these two forms he describes an evolution.
Introduction to Sociology/Groups
Primitive societies are primarily based on mechanical solidarity. The members of these societies are hardly differentiated. This system is the collective or common consciousness, which cannot be located within a single physical substratum but is present in its entirety in every member of society.
Nevertheless, it exists independent from these individuals: It does not change from one generation to the other, but links the different generations to each other. The origin of the collective unconscious lies in the confrontation of shared feelings and representations.
Central to Durkheim's theory on the collective consciousness is the notion of vitality. Consciousness, whether it be individual or collective, derives its force, its vitality, from strong representations. The confrontation of shared representations within a society gives these collective representations a greater vitality, which largely surpasses the vitality of individual representations.
This way of conceptualizing consciousness has several consequences. Second, because of its greater vitality the collective consciousness appears as a moral force. It is also the strongest form of authority. When a certain representation or act goes against these collective representations, against the moral order and greatest authority, this provokes a heavy emotional response from the group.
Therefore, Durkheim states that penal law is the most common expression of the collective consciousness. Last, it also implies that this authority is not a social function, which receives a relative importance according to the society in which it occurs, but represents the society as a whole.
For example, in the Roman, patriarchal families the father did not incarnate a specific social function but represented the group and its moral ascendancy as such.
Whereas mechanical solidarity is based on similarity, organic solidarity is based on difference and specialization. This in turn increases the degree of individuality within that society.
This radically changes the relation between the members because now they all depend upon one another like the organs that constitute a bodywhereas in societies based on mechanical solidarity there was virtually no differentiation and every member could easily be replaced by any other. According to Durkheim the standard expression of this form of solidarity is not penal law, but contractual law.
The relation between the members of these societies are consolidated through contract. However, this does not mean that such societies are merely based on free exchange where relations are fleeting and exist only for the duration of the contract.
The state regulates and harmonizes the different professional, domestic, etc. Moreover, the state is as dependent on the different members of society as they are on it and on each other. Society no longer treats its members as things over which it has rights, but as cooperating members on which it depends and with regards to whom it has certain obligations. Thus Durkheim explains the degraded authority of the father, on which Lacan based his theories on the Oedipus complex inthrough a change in the nature of the relation between the individual and the collective.
In the patriarchal societies of yore, members were hardly differentiated and the father represented the group as a superhuman authority. In modern societies based on the division of labor this authority shifts to the state as a governing instance which is as dependent on the individuals as they are on the collective. Even though he discerns an evolution toward individuality, Durkheim continues to stress the importance of the collective representations and their effect on the individual.
In a paper written with his nephew, Marcel Mauss Durkheim and Mauss,he describes the impact of social morphology i. Whether it is a primitive classification of plants based on an animistic belief, or a scientific classification based on genetics, man categorizes the world that surrounds him in representational systems that have a certain structure and hierarchy.
Durkheim states that these systems of classification are shaped by a process influenced by all sorts of external elements, the most fundamental of which is the social organization of a society.
Therefore, many of the primitive classification systems reflect the morphology of the society from which they originate. However, once these representational systems have gained their independence from the social structures from whence they sprung, they function according to their own logic.
In conclusion we can state that Durkheim's collective consciousness contains its own collective representations, has its own vitality and functions according to its own laws. What is more, Durkheim  maintains a strict separation between the collective and the individual.
The collective conscious exists both as an independent entity and resides in its entirety in every individual, albeit in an unconscious form.
He deduces this from the fact that the collective representations appear to come from outside the individual and impose themselves in a coercive manner, under the form of moral obligations. Karsenti states that Durkheim's conceptualization brings sociology in an awkward position. He has materialized the collective chosificationmade it into a collective consciousness that is unconscious on an individual level.
As such, sociology can only study the social in the light of this irreducible dualism, where the collective has a certain ascendancy over the individual. This is due to the fact that for Durkheim a representation can only exist if it represents something to somebody. In order to allow for the idea of an unconscious representation he has to dissociate the notion of representation and individual consciousness. Subsequently, he postulates the existence of a collective consciousness that exists alongside the individual consciousness, because only then the collective representations can be unconscious for us individuals but not as such.
It is only afterwards that these collective representations appear, not as the product of some impersonal subject, but as the effect of their insertion on the level of the limited, individual consciousness.
Introduction to Sociology/Groups - Wikibooks, open books for an open world
Thus the notion of representation lead Durkheim into an impasse where the individual and the collective are strictly dissociated. Mauss and the total man Mauss will furnish sociology with a new object: In a shift from sociology to anthropology, which studies man in all his aspects social, individual, biological, etc.
The social forms but a single aspect of this total man. Maus's is no longer a dualistic approach, but one that focuses on the complex and dialectical relation between the individual and the collective in an effort to expose its underlying rules and structures, rather than its representations. Mauss defends the notion of a gradual difference between individual and collective. Individual representations can permeate the collective and vice versa.
But, his emphasis was heavily on the large-scale structure society. He believed that it is the structure of society which determines roles and norms, and the cultural system which determines the ultimate values of ends. His theory was severely criticised by George Homans A recent well-known theorist Anthony Giddens has not accepted the idea of some sociologists that society has an existence over and above individuals.
How individual and society affect each other? Or how individual and society interacts? Both the above views are incomplete. The extreme view of individual or society has long been abandoned. For sociologists—from Cooley to the present—have recognised that neither society nor the individual can exist without each other and that they are, in reality, different aspects of the same thing.
These anthropologists have studied how society shapes or controls individuals and how, in turn, individuals create and change society. Thus, to conclude, it can be stated that the relationship between society and individual is not one-sided. Both are essential for the comprehension of either. Both go hand in hand, each is essentially dependent on the other. Both are interdependent on each, other. A few writings of the past and present individualists—Thomas Hobbes 17th century and John Stuart Mill 19th century have failed to recognise this interdependency.
The same misunderstanding is held by thinkers such as Benjamin Kidd and philosopher Hegel who oppose the above views. In their opinion the individual should be subordinated to society. They say that the individual should sacrifice their welfare at the cost of society. Both these views are extreme which see the relationship between individual and society from merely the one or the other side. But surely all is not harmonious between individual and society.
The individual and society interact on one another and depend on one another.