being who has a unique consciousness and/or unique personal experiences, or an entity that has a relationship with another entity that exists outside of itself

A subject is an individual who possesses conscious experiences, perspectives, feelings, beliefs, and desires.


  • All ideology hails or interpellates concrete individuals as concrete subjects, by the functioning of the category of the subject. ... ideology ‘acts’ or ‘functions’ in such a way that it ‘recruits’ subjects among the individuals (it recruits them all), or ‘transforms’ the individuals into subjects (it transforms them all) by that very precise operation which I have called interpellation or hailing, and which can be imagined along the lines of the most commonplace everyday police (or other) hailing: ‘Hey, you there!’
  • I am a subject that is a head, not a complement of a chicken that has no head. The subject has become the passive observer, the spectator, waiting for the curtains to fall like the guillotine. Artaud said theater can exist without the text—the production has to liberate itself from literature-and it did liberate itself—it became self-sufficient—it became a conjugation.
  • All those movements which took place in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries and which had the Reformation as their main expression and result should be analyzed as a great crisis of the Western experience of subjectivity and a revolt against the kind of religious and moral power which gave form, during the Middle Ages, to this subjectivity. The need to take a direct part in spiritual life, in the work of salvation, in the truth which lies in the Book—all that was a struggle for a new subjectivity.
    • Michael Foucault, "The Subject and Power," Critical Inquiry, Vol. 8, No. 4. (Summer, 1982), p. 782
  • The political, ethical, social, philosophical problem of our day is not to try to liberate the individual from the state and from the state's institutions but to liberate us both from the state and from the type of individualization which is linked to the state. We have to promote new forms of subjectivity through the refusal of this kind of individuality which has been imposed on us for several centuries.
    • Michel Foucault, "The Subject and Power," Critical Inquiry, Vol. 8, No. 4. (Summer, 1982), p. 785
  • Under capitalism, subjectivity can only exist antagonistically, in opposition to its own objectification. To treat the subject as already emancipated, as most mainstream theory does, is to endorse the present objectification of the subject as subjectivity, as freedom.
  • Subjectivity includes the possibility, for example, that some elements or impulses are subjectively active — they move us — without being consciously known.... It focuses on the "who I am" or, as important, the "who we are" of culture. ... Consciousness embraces the notion of a consciousness of self and an active mental and moral self-production.
    • Richard Johnson, describing the distinction between subjectivity and consciousness, What is Cultural Studies Anyway (1983), p. 12

See also

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