Why do we care what people think?

Lacan, trans-subjectivity, and structural racism

Farid Alsabeh
11 min readMay 23, 2023

These days, public opinion seems to have captured our attention. We speak of its ‘court’ and debate the justness of its rulings. We question whether ‘being cancelled’ goes beyond being held accountable.

We might explain this by saying that humans are social creatures. We evolved in the context of the tribe, building our way up to increasingly complex systems of organization. And we count, among the basic necessities of life, interpersonal needs like companionship and relating.

No wonder, then, that we’d be preoccupied with public opinion — that we should care so much what people think.

But the fact that we’re social creatures has more to do than just our outward behaviors. On the contrary, the social domain is embedded in our own self-concept: it inhabits us in a deep way, framing our experience of ourselves and our world.

The concept of ‘trans-subjectivity’ explains how the social domain is constitutive of our subjective makeup. It refers to the social reality that is acknowledged, not by any particular person, but by people in general: not what one person thinks, but what ‘people think’.

In this article, we’ll explore the concept of the trans-subjective as it was introduced by…