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After Individuality: Freud’s Mass Psychology and Weimar Politics
Linköping University, REMESO - Institute for Research on Migration, Ethnicity and Society. Linköping University, Department of Social and Welfare Studies. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-2007-3736
2013 (English)In: New German critique, ISSN 0094-033X, Vol. 40, no 2, 53-75 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This essay discusses Sigmund Freud’s Mass Psychology and the Analysis of the ’I’ (1921), within its historical, intellectual and political context. Freud’s argument, that masses are produced through processes of identification with authoritarian leadership, opens a new chapter in the history of crowd psychology. The essay asks how it is that Freud’s mass theory has been interpreted both as a theory of the psyche and as theory of society, and, as for the latter alternative, both as a theory of fascism and as a theory of social cohesion in general. Or: how come Freud’s definition of the mass serves both as a definition of totalitarian rule, the proto-fascist order of the primal father, and as a definition of society, held together by libidinal ties that Freud associated with Eros? Dissolving this apparent paradox, the essay shows that, for Freud, the mass occupies the same position as the unconscious. Being beyond any means of representation and language, the mass, like the unconscious, is for Freud society in its ”zero-degree” or ”raw” state, before being socially divided and politically organized. No wonder that such a theory would emerge in a historical situation like the Weimar period, when social divisions were contested and political institutions weak or defunct. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Durham & London: Duke University Press , 2013. Vol. 40, no 2, 53-75 p.
Keyword [en]
Freud, crowd psychology, masses, collectivity, Weimar Germany, culture in
National Category
International Migration and Ethnic Relations Philosophy Sociology
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-70011DOI: 10.1215/0094033X-2077699OAI: diva2:434245
Cultures of the Crowd: The Idea and Image of the Masses in Modern European History
Available from: 2011-08-13 Created: 2011-08-13 Last updated: 2015-09-22

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Jonsson, Stefan
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REMESO - Institute for Research on Migration, Ethnicity and SocietyDepartment of Social and Welfare StudiesFaculty of Arts and Sciences
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International Migration and Ethnic RelationsPhilosophySociology

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