This essay asks how the political identity and the domain of civic participation we reference with the term citizenship has been transformed in the contexts of neoliberalism. Michel Foucault famously argues that the subject of a market-centered, neoliberal governance structure is best understood as an entrepreneur of him- or herself. Recent influential scholarship in the (interdisciplinary) humanities and social sciences builds on Foucault's model of an entrepreneurial self-manager in order to posit a new mode of “self-enterprising citizen-subject,” not defined by her claims on the state. This essay considers how, to what degree and in what spheres of public life, the neoliberal self-manger exercises the political capacities of a citizen. The analysis dwells particularly on what many have observed is a contemporary dissolution of the modern nation-state synthesis, predicated on the exercise of popular sovereignty, but also, in complementary fashion, on the creation of civic pedagogies: on educational institutions that set specific norms of social and political identity, and thereby transform the “mob” into a national “people.” I argue that these kinds of normative (or disciplinary) pedagogies no longer seem functional to the aims of neoliberal governance and speculate on the parameters of an emerging “neocitizenship,” in which citizens and noncitizens alike appear primarily as the targets of knowledge and control, rather than of social discipline.
Eva Cherniavsky; Neocitizenship and Critique. Social Text 1 June 2009; 27 (2 (99)): 1–23. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/01642472-2008-020
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