The main contribution of this doctoral thesis is to introduce Judith Butler’s developments into social theory debates, by exposing their relevance to rethink the problem of the relation between structure and action. Even as Butler has already been recognized in gender and sexuality studies, we consider that the innovative character of her perspective in relation to this particular problem and the comprehension of production, reproduction, naturalization, materialization and transformation of social order and its subjects, has not been addressed yet.
In this sense, we question Butler’s texts from a social theory point of view, by putting them into dialogue with authors such as Anthony Giddens, Pierre Bourdieu, Jürgen Habermas and Margaret Archer. Moreover, we interrogate social theory from butlerian theory, highlighting its contribution to the problem of structure and action in relation to: a) the conception of discourse performativity and its consequences to action; b) the process of incarnation of the norm and its relation to fantasy; c) the constitutive character of sex- gendered norms in the process of production and subordination of subjects; and d) the different ways in which social transformation can be articulated.
To this effect, we elaborate a cartography of Butler’s texts through the identification and systematization of its basic premises, its fundamental concepts and the logic relations that are established between them, as well as the principal constellations and forces that explicitly or implicitly form its perspective, in order to produce a rearticulation of the butlerian theory of performative action and symbolic structures. Our theoretical- methodological strategy is focused on developing a synoptic content analysis that includes the critical paraphrases of Butler’s texts and its incorporation in a new problematic horizon.
The general hypothesis behind our reading assumes that it is possible to rearticulate a structure and action conceptualization in butlerian theory as the result of a particular tension between two force fields. On the one hand, the foucauldian thesis of power as productive and inmanent to the social field, allows to understand resistance as a fold of power on itself. On the other hand, the lacanian theory based on the impossible search of fullness driven by a structural lack, entails the existence of an exterior which insistence will have effects in the symbolic order. To interpret Butler’s texts focusing on the critical dialogue and the implicit recovery of foucauldian theory and lacanian psychoanalysis is yet another major contribution of our research.
Therefore, as the result of the tension between foucauldian and lacanian thesis, we rearticulate the butlerian theory of performative action as a reiterative practice of power that produces what it names and its constitutive exterior (chapter II); and the symbolic structure theory, as historically contingent power formations that, as a result of performative action, produce acts, subjects and abjects trough repetition and exclusion (chapter III). After rearticulating butlerian theory of performative action and symbolic structures, we expose the way in which these two notions combine in relation to the subject (chapter IV). Finally, we present the butlerian conception of social transformation as a fold of power on itself, an effect of ritual repetition that introduces the excluded, producing multiple reconfigurations (chapter V). The identification and systematization of different models of social transformation in Butler’s texts is a fundamental contribution of greater relevance to keep on thinking her work.