Culture under neoliberalism / neoliberal culture: Studies from the Pacific Rim (Journal articles, 11/15/13)
Over the past thirty years, it has increasingly become understood in cultural theory that neoliberalism -- the extension of free market principles and corporate structures into the wider social and cultural spheres -- has become a shaping paradigm of our daily lives. Neoliberal tenets include the model of persons as rational economic actors advancing their own interests under the banner of self-determination and choice; the elevation of enterprise along with prudent risk management; the "freeing" of capital from state control into corporate ownership; and the shifting of social responsibility from state agencies to kinship-based forms of care. While "society" has been depicted as a constraining force on commercial and personal freedom, "culture" has been energised as a source of wealth formation: capitalist economies pursue "creative" business solutions even as the state-funded arts have been transformed into "creative industries," and "cultural capital" is deemed to inject distinctiveness and value into a wide range of forms of production, from the branded commodity to the "job ready" individual offering their services to the employment market.
Such productive appeals to the mutuality of culture and economy have preoccupied and, arguably, disarmed the academic left. In particular, in Aotearoa New Zealand, the erosion of workers' rights and income was accompanied by real advances in the visibility and economic power of Māori iwi and business interests.
How might we characterise the complex relationships between neoliberalism, culture and decolonisation now, in the wake of the global financial crisis of 2008? Are new cultural formations emerging that signal the waning of the neoliberal paradigm, or is it "business as usual"? Are we in the grip of "zombie capitalism," the "strange non-death of neoliberalism," and the renewed "spirit of neoliberalism," as claimed by Chris Harman, Stanley Crouch, and Manuel Aalbers, respectively; or are there glimmerings of a new "cultural front" -- new conjunctions of social action, particularly through global networks and digital technologies?
We welcome papers that address the implications of these contemporary manifestations of neoliberal culture, as well as papers that explore interventions and disruptions to the ideologies and practices that inform neoliberal culture. What has been the impact of the contemporary global marketing of culture, and cultural identity, on the cultures of the wider Pacific? In Aotearoa New Zealand, how have Māori aspirations articulated to the Treaty of Waitangi been enabled by the practices and policies of neoliberalism, and at what cost, both to those less well placed to participate or benefit, and to the very possibility of living differently without being individually or collectively pathologised or criminalised? What forms of social and mental habits have become necessary to negotiate this culturalisation of the economy, and what alternative models of exchange and value might be possible?
We particularly welcome papers that address the following issues:
• Promoting culture as a resource
• Culture for profit
• Culture for sale
• The ubiquity of branding
• "MyCulture" and narrowcasting
• The culture of apps
• Mobile privatisation
• Enterprise culture
• Cultural tourism
• Post-settlement politics
• Local interventions and disruptions to neoliberal rationality
• Cultural policy and democratisation
• "Cool capitalism" (Jim McGuigan)
• Creative workers and the precarity trap
• The labour theory of culture (Michael Denning)
• Neoliberal culture as a structure of feeling (Patricia Ventura)
• "Deworlding" (Alain Badiou)
• "Cruel optimism" (Lauren Berlant)
• Public things and the routine of privatization (Bonnie Honig)
• Zombie capitalism
• Neoliberalism in crisis
• Neoliberalism as history
Sites: A Journal of Social Anthropology and Cultural Studies seeks multidisciplinary perspectives on the study of societies and cultures of the wider Pacific region. We welcome work from authors in the fields of anthropology, cultural studies, indigenous studies, Maori studies, sociology, media studies, communication, heritage studies, cultural policy studies, history, gender, linguistics, and ethnomusicology.
Papers should be around 8,000 words in length, formatted in the most recent version of APA style. Guidelines for submission are available at:
The editors welcome extended abstracts in advance if you wish to discuss your topic prior to submission. Contact: