The psycho- and sociogenesis of neoliberalism

Gammon, Earl (2013) The psycho- and sociogenesis of neoliberalism. Critical Sociology, 39 (4). pp. 511-528. ISSN 1569-1632

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Abstract

This analysis examines the psycho-social pressures that gave rise to neoliberal subjectivity in the 1970s, drawing insights from the work of Norbert Elias, Sigmund Freud and Georges Bataille. Specifically, it looks to new codes of shame regarding feelings of superiority that were developing with the civil and women’s rights movements as pivotal in neoliberalism’s ascendancy. These codes of shame heightened psychical tensions for the normalized Fordist subject by making taboo entrenched registers of social hierarchy. The transition to neoliberal subjectivity, with its emphasis on hyper-individualism and the increasing mediation of social relations by impersonal market forces, reflected a compensatory strategy for organizing selfhood. The neoliberal subject, while nominally adhering to notions of political equality, sublimated aggression through a form of economic sociality that reinforced historical inequalities. As the article concludes, neoliberalism is akin to a narcissistic neurosis, obstructing identification with others, and manifests itself in a dispassionate social destructiveness.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: affect, aggression, anxiety, civilizing process, Fordism, Freud, neoliberalism, political economy
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > International Relations
Subjects: H Social Sciences
Depositing User: Earl Gammon
Date Deposited: 31 Oct 2012 14:54
Last Modified: 07 Oct 2013 11:19
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/41750
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