The elusive subjects of neoliberalism: beyond the analytics of governmentality

Barnett, Clive, Clarke, Nick, Cloke, Paul and Malpass, Alice (2008) The elusive subjects of neoliberalism: beyond the analytics of governmentality. [in special issue: Cultural Studies and Anti-Consumerism: a Critical Encounter] Cultural Studies, 22, (5), 624-653. (doi:10.1080/09502380802245902).


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This paper assesses the degree to which conceptualizations of neo-liberal governance and advanced liberal governmentality can throw light on contemporary transformations in the practices and politics of consumption. It detours through theories of governmentality, stories about consumption and shopping, and different variations on what we can learn from Foucault. We explore the degree to which aspects of Foucault's discussions of government and ethics can be put to work methodologically without necessarily buying into fully systematized theories of governmentality that have been built around them. The idea that organizations and networks might share rationalities through which they problematize and seek to intervene in specified areas of social life seems worth pursuing. So too does the notion of various modes of ethical problematization through which people come to take their own activities as requiring moral reflection. In neither case, however, can the analytics of governmentality provide a coherent theoretical account of how political processes of rule and administration work, or indeed of how they connect up with cultural processes of self-formation and subjectivity.

Item Type: Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): doi:10.1080/09502380802245902
ISSNs: 0950-2386 (print)
1466-4348 (electronic)
Keywords: governmentality, consumption, neo-liberalism, subjectivity, ethical, problematization
Subjects: J Political Science > JC Political theory
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BJ Ethics
Divisions : University Structure - Pre August 2011 > School of Geography
ePrint ID: 64189
Accepted Date and Publication Date:
15 September 2008Published
Date Deposited: 05 Dec 2008
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2016 12:49

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