The creation of the subject and reality: some notes on theory

PART of Constructing a Party

Core to our system is understanding humans as a “subject” and the idea that reality is a social construction. This reality can be manipulated through institutions to form a voter (subject) that will vote for the party.

The human as a subject

In theories of human subjectivity, a distinction is made between “the subject” and “the individual”.

While the individual is an actual person, the subject is a set of roles constructed by dominant cultural and ideological values (e.g. in terms of class, age, gender and ethnicity). These values are part of what is known in Lacanian psychoanalysis as the symbolic. It is a set of pre-existing societal contexts into which individual human beings are born. The symbolic creates “reality”.

Reality as a social construct

This concept tells us that society is a human product that continuously acts back upon who produce it.

The foundational work for this theory is “The Social Construction of Reality” by Peter L. Berger and Thomas Luckmann.

To summarise Berger’s and Luckmann’s idea:

Human activity represents externalization of human subjectivity, which is rendered into objective reality through institutionalization. Objective reality, in turn, is internalized by means of socialization; it is transformed again into subjective reality. The social world, seen in this way, is a product of man, while man himself is a product of the social world. In a word, man produces both society and himself.

In other words, people continuously create a shared reality through their actions and interactions. They experience this as objectively factual and subjectively meaningful.

To fully grasp this, we will need to understand the process of externalization, objectivation, and internalization.

Externalization is the ongoing outpouring of the physical and mental activity of a human being into the world.

The externalization of human products, such institutions and cultural behaviours created in processes of action and interaction, give them the character of objectivity. When they are transmitted to the next generation, they at first appear as “reality”; as something that is accepted automatically.

This reality is then internalized by humans. Initially, children acquire language and are socialised into the ideas and ways of their culture. In this way, meanings created by humans are passed on to future generations as an objective reality. As a result, society functions as the formative agency for individual consciousness.

On a strategic level, rather than focus on the individual, a political party that uses our theory will seek to shape reality by influencing the symbolic. By doing so, this will form the voter as a subject who is willing to support the party.


In our formulation, hegemony is linked to the symbolic. Our use of the term “hegemony” is adapted from the work of Gramsci.

We are focused on cultural hegemony. In Gramscian terms, this refers to the manner the ruling class of a society exercise intellectual and cultural leadership over a society, ensuring their world view becomes the accepted norm.


Again, we make a link between symbolic and our next concept, which is ideology. Althusser’s work on this is the basis from which we begin.

Ideology refers to the stream of discourses, images and ideas that are all around us all the time, into which we are born, in which we grow up, and in which we live, think and act.

From this definition, we can see how a link exists to the symbolic. In our system, ideology is a key constituent element of the symbolic.

Ideological apparatuses, which we define as institutions that propagate the ideology of the hegemonic class, are also crucial to our system.

How do we adapt these theories for our purposes?

On a strategic level, rather than focus on the individual, a political party that uses our system will seek to shape reality by influencing the symbolic.

Shaping the symbolic involves exercising some degree of hegemonic control. This hegemonic control can only occur through ideology. Specifically, the party has to use ideological apparatuses to exercise a hegemonic influence over the symbolic, which will form voters as subjects who will vote for the party.

In our experience and observations, while many successful campaigns do this, it has often happened intuitively and in an ad hoc manner. Our goal is to map out a methodology where this can be done in a systematic and consciousness manner for a political campaign.