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Communication Dans Un Congrès Année : 2012

Neoliberalism and its subjects


This paper presents an overview of a new monograph entitled Neoliberalism and its Subjects. It focuses on how neoliberalism operates as 'a mode of governance' (Brown 2005) and functions to produce subjects, citizens, and new modes of social organization. The monograph traces the role of media and communication in the various extensions of neoliberalism into public and private life. It also pays particular attention to the role of culture, media and communications in neoliberal extensions, and in normalizing market logic as the basis for decision making and working practices. In this way an attempt is made to map how neoliberalism operates as a productive force. The monograph draws out how neoliberalism is applied in practice by providing an empirically-based examination of neoliberal extensions into creative practice, immigration policy, consumption and citizenship.Neoliberalism has been described as a political and economic program (Hay 2004; Harvey 2007 and 2010), as an ideology (Bourdieu and Wacquant 2001; Giroux 2008), and as a rationality influencing schemas of thought and processes of analysis (Brown 2005; Foucault 2008; Couldry 2010). It is argued that market logic is colonizing human experience (Boltanski and Chiapello 2005), in part through constraining and shaping language which produces new forms of knowledge that are inscribed in practice (Lemke 2002), and which prescribe a 'way of doing things' (Foucault 2008). Writers such as Gill and Scharff (2011) have recently called for more attention to be paid to neoliberalism 'on the ground'. In particular, they argue that deeper empirical connections need to be made between neoliberalism and subjectivity; connections which draw out "...the ways in which these governing practices quite literally 'get inside us' to materialize and constitute our subjectivities" (2011: 7). The chapters in the monograph take up this call, investigating the myriad ways in which media and communication practices are determinants of, and conduits for, neoliberal subjectivities and subject positions. These chapters expand previous discussions by providing a thorough and detailed assessment of neoliberal processes through the investigation of site-specific case studies.The paper to be presented provides a brief overview of the book including an introduction to the subject areas covered: in the chapter entitled 'The Creative Worker as Neoliberal Subject' Conor traces the elaboration of a neoliberal, creative subject-hood in relation to cultural sector employment in the UK and New Zealand, focusing on screen production industries. Particularly, the analysis seeks out the disjunctures between the discourses of neoliberal policy-making that continue to proffer creativity as a skills-based entrepreneurial strategy for all workers; and empirical labour market data which illustrates that rather than freedom, autonomy and egalitarianism, creative work in film and television production is characterized by precariousness, insecurity, hierarchy, and lack of diversity. These disjunctures, embodied in the subject of the 'creative worker', highlight the anxieties that come with the implementation of fiercely individualised and economised notions of creativity. In the second chapter 'The Skilled Immigrant as Neoliberal Subject' Redden argues that Britain's move to a points-based immigration system with its emphasis on 'skill' must be considered in relation to the central role media plays in reinforcing and amplifying market-based schema of evaluation (Couldry 2010), and also in the formulation and implementation of policy making (Kuhn 2002). By connecting the development of immigration policy to neoliberal efforts and processes of mediation the chapter aims to detail the relationships between the media, politics and policy through a site and issue specific analysis. The chapter draws upon textual analysis of news coverage in 2008 and policy documents in addition to interviews with journalists, politicians, civil servants and activists. In the fourth chapter entitled 'The Critical Consumer as Neoliberal Subject' Lekakis argues that an examination of the 'critical consumer' provides a means to assess the intrusion of a market mentality on political participation. The paper evaluates the political meaningfulness of political consumption (Micheletti et al. 2004) in relation to the forms of participation evoked through dominant narratives and their interpretations and enactments by citizens. Through a series of interviews with citizen consumers and agents involved in the campaigning side of the fair and solidarity trade scene, as well as an interrogation of the activation and promotion of fair trade products, this chapter argues for a series of contentions sustained in the enactment of political consumerism alongside the political project of neoliberalism. The entity of the critical consumer has become a specific subject for political reasoning through the marketplace.The majority of the paper is devoted to outlining the theoretical framework for the book and detailing how this framework is applied through the discussion of Dencik's chapter entitled 'The Global Citizen as Neoliberal Subject'. In this paper Dencik argues that the concept of 'global citizen' should be viewed not as a product of the necessary expansion of political community, but as a new political subject driven by the political logic of late capitalism. The concept of 'global citizen' - far from being an articulation of political practice that overcomes the stifling inadequacies of the nation-state - privileges the (elite) individual over the collective as the primary unit of social change, absolves rather than enhances political responsibility, and celebrates the privatisation rather than the democratisation of public discourse and practice. As such, the paper challenges 'uncritical globalisation theory' (Fuchs 2010) by placing the appeals to a global 'space' as part of the (re)articulation of democratic practice in its appropriate context of contemporary neoliberal capitalism, ultimately highlighting its potential compromises to actual social justice and democratic change.
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Dates et versions

hal-00840676 , version 1 (02-07-2013)


  • HAL Id : hal-00840676 , version 1


Lina Dencik, Joanna Redden, Bridget Conor, Eleftheria Lekakis. Neoliberalism and its subjects. Communiquer dans un monde de normes. L'information et la communication dans les enjeux contemporains de la " mondialisation "., Mar 2012, France. ⟨hal-00840676⟩


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