CAIRN-INT.INFO : International Edition

The concept of ‘social character’ is not only the center of ‘Freudian-Marxist’ explanations of subjectivity according to capitalism. It is also one of the pillars of the critical theory of the Frankfurt School and one of the big disagreements within this current. This concept helps us understand our society and the difficulties to overcome it. The article locates, first, the emergence of the issues that led to the development of this concept. Then it reconstructs the roots of this notion in Freudian and Marxist theories, its development within the critical theory and especially within the contributions of Fromm, Adorno and Marcuse, as well as the differences between them. Finally, the article asks if this concept is a matrix of understanding contemporary subjectivity and of explanation of the inability to overcome capitalism.


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