Lack and jouissance in hegemonic discourse of identification with the state

Martin Müller

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22 Citations (Scopus)
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This article shows how hegemonic discourses are sustained through the play of lack and jouissance. Lack refers to the symbolic limits of discourse and is both the condition of possibility and of impossibility of hegemony: while it vitiates the realization of a full identity, it at the same time keeps spurring the search for it. Jouissance describes the paradoxical satisfaction in dissatisfaction that subjects procure from this lack, from the failure to attain the enjoyment that hegemonic discourse promises. Looking at how organizations become enmeshed with the formation of state subjects, the article considers identification with the discourse of a strong Russia at a Russian elite university as an empirical illustration. This discourse becomes hegemonic in students’ identification not only because it proposes a comprehensive project that unifies a range of diverse signifiers and promises enjoyment, but also because it fails to provide a full symbolic suture and subjects are unable to obtain the promised enjoyment. This constant lack forms the basis for repeated acts of identification that strive to overcome it and provides a jouissance that keeps subjects attached to the illusory quest for real enjoyment––and thus to identification with a strong Russia.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)279-298
Number of pages20
Early online date12 May 2012
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • discourse
  • identities
  • hegemony
  • jouissance
  • Lacan
  • lack
  • Laclau
  • poststructuralism
  • psychoanalysis
  • Russia


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