The social world is within us as much as outside of us. As the origin of our unhappiness as well as our happiness, individual and collective, it is differentiated and complexified to the point of producing the sentiment that the intimate, the singular, the personal, is by nature distinct from society (as two clearly different objects) and even opposed to it. It is a paradox or ruse of the social world that it has produced, in a particularly advanced state of differentiation, the very widespread sensation of a subjective life that is non-social or extra-social. This individualistic story is accepted on all sides. The individual, the internal forum or subjectivity as site of our ultimate freedom is one of our great contemporary myths. People may prefer to share these myths or to rid themselves of them. It seems to me that abandoning the illusion of an undetermined ‘subjectivity’, ‘interiority’ or ‘singularity’, any illusion of free will or ‘personal’ existence outside the social world, in order to show the forces and counter-forces, both internal (dispositional) and external (contextual), to which we are continuously subjected from our birth and which makes us feel what we feel, think what we think and do what we do, is a valuable advance in knowledge.
Bernard Lahire - The Plural Actor