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The confidence cult(ure)

Gill, R. & Orgad, S. S. (2016). The confidence cult(ure). Australian Feminist Studies, 30(86), pp. 324-344. doi: 10.1080/08164649.2016.1148001


In this paper we explore how confidence has become a technology of self that invites girls and women to work on themselves. The discussion demonstrates the extensiveness of what we call the ‘cult(ure) of confidence’ across different areas of social life, and examines the continuities in the way that exponents of the confidence cult(ure) name, diagnose and propose solutions to archetypal feminist questions about labour, value and the body. Our analysis focuses on two broad areas of social life in which the notion of confidence has taken hold powerfully in the last few years: popular discussions about gender and work, and consumer body culture. Examining the incitements to self-confidence in these realms, we show how an emergent technology of confidence, systematically re-signifies feminist accounts, by turning away from structural inequalities and collectivist critiques of male domination into heightened modes of self-work and self-regulation, and by repudiating the injuries inflicted by the structures of inequality. We conclude by situating the ‘confidence cult(ure)’ in relation to wider debates about feminism, postfeminism and neoliberalism.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Australian Feminist Studies on 8 Apr 2016, available online:
Publisher Keywords: Feminism, Postfeminism, Neoliberalism, Work, Subjectivity
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
Departments: School of Policy & Global Affairs > Sociology & Criminology
Text - Accepted Version
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