This article explores some concerns about the concept of neo-liberalism, suggesting that it has been stretched too far to be productive as a critical analytical tool. Neo-liberalism suffers from promiscuity (hanging out with various theoretical perspectives), omnipresence (treated as a universal or global phenomenon), and omnipotence (identified as the cause of a wide variety of social, political and economic changes). Alternative ways of treating neo-liberalism as more contingent and contested are considered. These emphasize its mobile and flexible character, stressing processes of contextual assemblage, articulation, and translation. The article concludes by wondering whether the concept of neo-liberalism is now so overused that it should be retired.
Boone W. Shear and Angelina I. Zontine
Ongoing transformations of the university - from changing working conditions to issues of affordability and access, increasing 'accountability' measures and commodification of academic production - are increasingly referred to as university corporatisation and are unfolding within and concomitant to neoliberal globalisation. In this paper we outline some of these processes as they are occurring at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and explore the limitations and possibilities of a critical response mounted by a number of students and faculty in the Department of Anthropology. Drawing on ethnographic data and interviews with group participants, as well as our own experiences with the group, we describe and assess this project as a means to investigate and respond to neoliberal governance. Through this analysis we problematise conventional discourses and imaginings of university corporatisation and neoliberalism and explore the sometimes contradictory subject positions that complicate our efforts to respond critically to university corporatisation.
Trends, Limitations, Reformulations
The impact of neoliberal policy reform on water management has been a topic of significant debate since the mid-1980s. On one side, a number of organizations have generated an abundant literature in support of neoliberal reforms to solve a range of water governance challenges. To improve water efficiency, allocation, and management, supporters have advocated the introduction and/or strengthening of market mechanisms, private sector ownership and operation, and business-like administration. Other individuals and groups have responded critically to the prescribed reforms, which rarely delivered the predicted results or became fully actualized. This article endeavors to articulate the varying sets of claims, to analyze the trends, to test them against their forecasted benefits, and to examine certain prominent proposals for reforming the reforms. The water sector experience with neoliberalization reveals several sets of contradictions within the neoliberal program, and these are discussed in the final section of the article.
Susan Brin Hyatt
As a political and economic philosophy, neoliberalism has been used to reshape schools and universities, making them far more responsive to the pressures of the market. The principles associated with neoliberalism have also extended to programmes for urban economic development, particularly with respect to the largescale gentrification of neighbourhoods rendering them amenable to investments aimed at creating spaces attractive to white, middle-and-upper class consumers. In this article, I discuss how universities themselves have come to play a significant role as urban developers and investors, promoting commercial retail development and building upscale housing in neighbourhoods adjacent to their campuses. My entry point into this discussion is through describing an ethnographic methods class I taught in 2003, whereby students carried out collaborative research in the African-American neighbourhood surrounding Temple University's main campus in Philadelphia. As a result of their work, we produced a neighbourhood newspaper that sought to disrupt the commonplace assumptions about 'rescuing' the neighbourhood from what was presented as an inexorable spiral of decline; rather, our work showed that actions taken by the university, itself, had helped to produce the very symptoms of decline that the new development project now purported to remedy.
The neo-liberal state in Mumbai's 2005 flood
This article discusses the networked forms of governance that have arisen as part of roll-out neo-liberal policies in Mumbai, India, focusing on the flood of 26 July 2005 and its aftermath. The municipal government's inaction during and after the flood is attributed to the decentralization of governance, as well as to cutbacks to public health and basic services in recent years. The rise of competitive urbanism as a part of roll-out neo-liberalism is analyzed as producing gaps in disaster management planning and implementation. The article concludes with a call for a refinanced state and a centralization of municipal bodies under a unified municipal council, seen as necessary to provide the professionalized services required during large-scale emergencies such as floods.
In order for nature/society scholars to understand the dynamics of environmental appropriation, commercialization, and privatization, we must attend to the production of the environmental science that enables them. Case studies from anthropology, geography, history of science, science and technology studies, and sociology demonstrate that the neoliberal forces whose application we study and contest are also changing the production of environmental knowledge claims both inside and outside the university. Neoliberalism's core epistemological claim about the market's superiority as information processor has made restructuring the university a surprisingly central project. Further, because knowledge has become a key site of capital accumulation, the transformative reach of neoliberal science regimes extends outside the university into the various forms of extramural science, such as citizen science, crowdsourcing, indigenous knowledge, and local knowledge. Neoliberal science regimes' impacts on these forms of extramural science are strikingly similar, and quite different from the most common consequences within academia.
Sites of pilgrimage and heritage tourism are often sites of social inequality and volatility that are impaired by hostilities between historical, ethnic, and competing religious discourses of morality, personhood, and culture, as well as between imaginaries of nationalism and citizenship. Often these pilgrim sites are much older in national and global history than the actual sovereign nation-state in which they are located. Pertinent issues to do with finance—such as regimes of taxation, livelihoods, and the wealth of regional and national economies—underscore these sites of worship. The articles in this special issue engage with prolix travel arrangement, accommodation, and other aspects of heritage tourism in order to understand how intangible aspects of such tourism proceed. But they also relate back to when and how these modern infrastructures transformed the pilgrimage and explore what the emerging discourses and practices were that gave newer meanings to neoliberal pilgrimages. The different case studies presented in this issue analyze the impact of these journeys on the pilgrims’ own subjectivities—especially with regard to the holy sites being situated in their imaginations of historical continuity and discontinuity and with regard to their transformative experiences of worship—using both modern and traditional infrastructures.
Critical Theory of the Police in a Neoliberal Age
In Discipline and Punish the police is a state institution isomorphic with the prison. In his Collège de France lectures, Foucault unearths a 'secret history of the police' where greater attention is paid to public health, social welfare and regulating the marketplace than investigating and arresting criminals. This broad overview of Foucault's writings on the police exhibits a 'splintering-effect' in his modalities of power. To resolve this apparent contradiction, a nominalist reading that conflates Foucault's divergent paradigms of power results in a more multifaceted history and a ubiquitous mode of power with diverse and precise techniques. There are strengths and weaknesses in Foucault's theory when applied to modern neoliberal police. Foucault should not be employed for one-dimensional criticisms of modern police or as an analytical cure-all.
The neoliberal regulation of academic work
Ana Luisa Muñoz-García
This article aims to analyse the multiple ways in which the neoliberal regulation of knowledge is negotiated by returning Chilean scholars. The data gathered suggest the construction of knowledge is highly regulated by a principle of intellectual endogamy. Intellectual endogamy is characterised by conservatism, reflected in a lack of diversity in research themes and problems and maintained by a peer-review system that controls scholars’ access to research funds. However, it is also characterised by instrumentalism, which is reflected in the requirements for obtaining research funds, such as publications in indexed journals and discourses of efficiency and productivity. Both facets engender a neoliberal regulation of academic work. This research encourages an expansion of the conversation about how academic mobility affects knowledge construction.
Michèle Lamont and Nicolas Duvoux
This essay considers changes in the symbolic boundaries of French society under the influence of neo-liberalism. As compared to the early nineties, stronger boundaries toward the poor and blacks are now being drawn, while North-African immigrants and their offsprings continue to be largely perceived as outside the community of those who deserve recognition and protection. Moreover, while the social reproduction of upper-middle-class privileges has largely remained unchanged, there is a blurring of the symbolic boundaries separating the middle and working class as the latter has undergone strong individualization. Also, youth are now bearing the brunt of France's non-adaptation to changes in the economy and are increasingly marginalized. The result is a dramatic change in the overall contours of the French symbolic community, with a narrowed definition of cultural membership, and this, against a background of growing inequality, unemployment, and intolerance in a more open and deregulated labor market.