Aesthetic motifs and the materiality of motives

Mads Bank*, Emma S.B. de Neergaard, Morten Nissen

*Corresponding author for this work

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This article discusses how working with aesthetic motifs can be used for cultivating motives for young drug-users and to move social work with drug users beyond a problematic framing as “treatment” or “therapy.” The main part of the article is a theoretical discussion of the relations between motive, materiality, and aesthetics in the tradition of Vygotskian socio-cultural-historical activity theory. Through a critical discussion of the functionalism and antifunctionalism in this tradition, we will use the aesthetic theory of Rancière to move beyond their scientific realism and the resulting separation of objectivity from subjectivity. Our aim is to propose a more fertile postpsychological understanding of how motives, metamotives, motifs, materiality, aesthetics, and scientific knowledge are intertwined and produced, and how these processes contribute to an ontological politics of creating new cultures and subjectivities.

Original languageEnglish
JournalTheory and Psychology
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)848-867
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2022.


  • aesthetics
  • drug-treatment
  • motivation
  • motives
  • socio-cultural-historical activity theory


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