Neoliberal culture

There are at least four books with this title, and more that address some aspect of the idea that neoliberalism has a culture, and that we are in it.

Jeremy Gilbert: “What kind of thing is ‘neoliberalism’? This collection of essays explores a range of possible answers to this question, arguing that neoliberalism is a complex, but specifiable and analysable phenomenon: a discursive formation, an ideology, a governmental programme, a hegemonic project, an assemblage of ideas, techniques and technologies, and what Deleuze and Guattari call an ‘abstract machine’. Following an introductory essay by Jeremy Gilbert which contextualises the meaning and significance of neoliberalism, the collection considers the genesis, persistence and polyvalency of the concept across a range of cultural sites and discursive genres from political philosophy to pornography, from economics to photographic technology. Chapters examine the intersection of neoliberal ideology and political practice with experiences of race, gender, sexuality and class; with grand politics, technical innovation and hard economics. This book is essential reading for anyone interesting in the contemporary cultural climate, and the impact of the pervasive concept of neoliberalism on society in the present.”

Jim McGuigan: “Neoliberal Culture challenges cultural policy research and media studies to forge a more sophisticated and critical understanding of the politics of culture today. It is a sequel to Jim McGuigan’s earlier Cool Capitalism and goes much further with his interrogation of how present-day capitalism commands the cultural field. Neoliberal principles and practices have achieved global hegemony over recent decades with implications for every aspect of social and cultural life. This book focuses specifically on the politics of culture with regard to the arts, media and everyday life under present-day neoliberal conditions. The author argues that there is a neoliberal structure of feeling that is yet more deeply entrenched than its cool-capitalist veneer might suggest. Neoliberal ‘common sense’ reduces all value, cultural and humane, to economic value and refashions the self psychologically and in a precarious labour market according to entrepreneurial ruthlessness and the ‘free-market’ imperatives of contemporary capitalism.”

Patricia Ventura: “Departing from the conventional understanding of neoliberalism as a set of economic and political policies favoring free markets, Neoliberal Culture presents a framework for analyzing neoliberalism in the United States as a culture-or structure of feeling- which shapes American everyday life. The book proposes five ‘components’ as the keys to any study of American neoliberal culture: biopower, corporatocracy, globalization, the erosion of welfare-state society, and hyperlegality, these five components enabling rich analyses of key artifacts of the neoliberal era, including the Iraq War, Las Vegas, welfare reform, Walmart, and Oprah’s Book Club. Carefully organized according to its central themes and adopting a case study approach in order to allow for thorough, illustrated analyses, this book is an important tool for scholars and students of contemporary cultural studies, popular culture, American Studies, and sociology.”

I’ve ordered the first of these; the others are so expensive I must ILL them. The fourth title that caught my eye is The Jazz Bubble: Neoclassical Jazz in Neoliberal Culture. It comes out next week, and looks fascinating! And there are several more titles like it.


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