Jacques Lacan and the Theory of the Religious Subject

In: Method & Theory in the Study of Religion
Dmitry Uzlaner Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences (MSSES) Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA) 82/5, Prospect Vernadskogo, Moscow Russian Federation 119571

Search for other papers by Dmitry Uzlaner in
Current site
Google Scholar
Download Citation Get Permissions

Access options

Get access to the full article by using one of the access options below.

Institutional Login

Log in with Open Athens, Shibboleth, or your institutional credentials

Login via Institution


Buy instant access (PDF download and unlimited online access):


Jacques Lacan’s theory of the subject is put forward in order to correct what the author calls “the naïve theory of the subject,” which sociologists of religion tend to utilize by default in numerous quantitative sociological studies based on mass surveys and oriented towards obtaining exact, scientific, positivistic knowledge. This article applies Lacan’s three registers—Imaginary, Symbolic, and Real—to the religious sphere and demonstrates their potential implications for the sociological analysis of religion. An analysis of the empirical research on Russia’s post-Soviet religious situation reinforces the author’s argument that an uncritical theory of the subject attends only to the superficial layers of the subject, which end up being devoid of actual subjectivity, according to Lacanian logic. The more fundamental layers of the subject, capable of making it “the subject” in the full sense of the word, seem to be completely outside of sociologists’ current field of vision. This critique directs the reader’s attention to the shortcomings of sociological surveys, and the author argues that a more robust understanding of the subject could enrich the sociology of religion, particularly by further developing certain conceptions, such as Grace Davie’s “vicarious religion.”

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 580 75 3
Full Text Views 246 7 0
PDF Views & Downloads 90 21 0