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INTERPELLATION In Althusser's theory of ideology, interpellation is the mechanism that produces subjects in such a way that they recognize their own existence in terms of the dominant ideology of the society in which they live. (1970).

The French interpellation is commonly used to mean 'being taken in by the police for questioning', it also means the 'questioning' of a minister in parliament.

Althusser's basic illustration of the mechanism exploits this sense of 'questioning' or 'hailing'.

An individual walking down the street is hailed by a police officer - 'Hey, you there!' - and turns round to recognize the fact that he is being addressed.

In doing so, that individual is constituted as a subject.

According to Althusser, the idea of interpellation demonstrates that subjects are always and already the products of ideology, and thus subverts the idealist thesis that subjectivity is primary or self-founding.


A similar notion of interpellation can be found in Vaneigem's contribution to the theory of situationism (1967).

Confronted by the flow of signs and images that cosntitute Debord's 'society of the spectacle', individuals are constantly interpellated by posters, advertisements and stereotypes offering universal images in which they are invited to recognize themselves.

The function of interpellation is to block spontaneous creativity.

Whether or not there is any direct connection between the two notions of interpellation remains unclear.