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The Affective Life of Neoliberalism: Constructing (Un)Reasonableness on Mumsnet

Gill, R. ORCID: 0000-0002-2715-1867, Ehrstein, Y. and Littler, J. (2019). The Affective Life of Neoliberalism: Constructing (Un)Reasonableness on Mumsnet. In: Dawes, S. and LeNormand, M. (Eds.), Neoliberalism in Context. . Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Abstract

In this paper we make an argument for taking seriously the affective life of neoliberalism, building from a number of circulating concepts, including the idea of affective atmospheres (Gregg 2018), public moods (Silva 2013; Forkert 2018), and neoliberal feeling rules (Kanai 2019). Earlier work has pointed to the need to take seriously the way in which neoliberalism shapes subjectivity through a plethora of forms of intimate governance (e.g. Brown 2015; Scharff 2016; Barker et al 2018). Here we argue that such governance also operates at the level of emotions and feelings, shaping what is deemed appropriate and even intelligible. In order to explore this concretely, we choose as an empirical example a well-known topic/motif on the hugely popular British parenting website, Mumsnet, in which women post with the question: Am I Being Unreasonable? The question has become so common that it has long since become a widely circulating acronym – AIBU – that has a life well beyond Mumsnet. Here we aim to explore how AIBU is mobilised specifically in relation to felt inequalities in heterosexual relationships, particularly those involving parenting, arguing that it is a key site for the expression and governance of feelings, and crucial for exploring the entanglement of the personal and the political.

Publication Type: Book Section
Additional Information: This is an accepted manuscript version of a chapter accepted for publication by Palgrave Macmillan.
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
J Political Science > JC Political theory
Departments: School of Arts & Social Sciences > Sociology
URI: http://openaccess.city.ac.uk/id/eprint/22075
[img] Text - Accepted Version
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