A Genealogy of Homo-Economicus: Neoliberalism and the Production of Subjectivity

  • Jason Read University of Southern Maine

Abstract

This article examines Michel Foucault’s critical investigation of neoliberalism in the course published as Naissance de la biopolitique: Cours au Collège de France, 1978-1979. Foucault’s lectures are interrogated along two axes. First, examining the way in which neoliberalism can be viewed as a particular production of subjectivity, as a way in which individuals are constituted as subjects of “human capital.” Secondly, Foucault’s analyses is augmented and critically examined in light of other critical work on neoliberalism by Wendy Brown, David Harvey, Christian Laval, Maurizo Lazzarato, and Antonio Negri. Of these various debates and discussions, the paper argues that the discussion of real subsumption in Marx and Negri is most important for understanding the specific politics of neoliberalism. Finally, the paper argues that neoliberalism entails a fundamental reexamination of the tools of critical thought, an examination of how freedom can constitute a form of subjection.

Author Biography

Jason Read, University of Southern Maine
Jason Read is assistant professor of philosophy at the University of Southern Maine. He is the author of The Micro-Politics of Capital: Marx and the Prehistory of the Present (SUNY, 2003) as well as numerous articles and essays on Deleuze, Negri, Althusser, and Marx. His current research is the ontology of social relations and a critique of neoliberalism.
Published
2009-02-01