The Work of Neoliberal Governmentality: Temporality and Ethical Substance in the Tale of Two Dads

Sam Binkley


This paper considers debates around the neoliberal governmentality, and argues for the need to better theorize the specific ethical practices through which such programs of governmentality are carried out. Arguing that much theoretical and empirical work in this area is prone to a “top down” approach, in which governmentality is reduced to an imposing apparatus through which subjectivities are produced, it argues instead for the need to understand the self-production of subjectivities by considering the ethical practices that make up neoliberal governmentality. Moreover, taking Robert T. Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad/Poor Dad as an illustrative case, the point is made that the work of neoliberal governmentality specifically targets the temporalities of conduct, in an attempt to shape temporal orientations in a more entrepreneurial form. Drawing on Foucault’s lecture courses on liberalism and neoliberalism, and Jacques Donzelot’s work on the social, the case is made that neoliberal governmentality exhorts individuals to act upon the residual social temporalities that persist as a trace in the dispositions of neoliberal subjects. Moreover, the paper concludes with a discussion of the potentials for resistance in this relation, understood as temporal counter-conducts within neoliberalism.

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Copyright (c) 2009 Sam Binkley

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