This paper is concerned with thinking through the cultural construction of personal identities whilst avoiding the classical social–individual division. Our starting point is the notion that there is no such thing as ‘the individual’, standing outside the social; however, there is an arena of personal subjectivity, even though this does not exist other than as already inscribed in the sociocultural domain. Our argument is that there are psychoanalytic concepts which can be helpful in exploring this ‘inscription’ and thus in explaining the trajectory of individual subjects; that is, their specific positioning in discourse. The argument is illustrated by data from a qualitative study of young masculinities, exploring the ways in which some individual boys take up positions in various degrees of opposition to the dominant ideology of ‘hegemonic’ masculinity
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