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The affective, cultural and psychic life of postfeminism: 10 years on

Gill, R. (2017). The affective, cultural and psychic life of postfeminism: 10 years on. European Journal of Cultural Studies, 20(6), pp. 606-626. doi: 10.1177/1367549417733003


This paper revisits the notion of ‘postfeminism’ ten years after its formulation in critical terms as a sensibility characterising cultural life. The paper has two broad aims: first to reflect upon postfeminism as a critical term – as part of the lexicon of feminist scholarship - and secondly to discuss the current features of postfeminism as a sensibility. The first part of the paper discusses the extraordinary uptake of the term, and considers its continuing relevance in a changed context marked by deeply contradictory trends including the resurgence of interest in feminism, alongside the spectacular visibility of misogyny, racism, homophobia and nationalism. I document a growing attention to the specificities of postfeminism, including attempts to map its temporal phases, its relevance to place, and intersectional developments of the term. The second part of the paper examines the contours of the contemporary postfeminist sensibility. I argue that postfeminism has tightened its hold upon contemporary life and become hegemonic. Compared with a decade ago it is much more difficult to recognise as a novel and distinctive sensibility, as it instantiates a common sense that operates as a kind of gendered neoliberalism. It has both spread out and intensified across contemporary culture and is becoming increasingly dependent upon a psychological register built around cultivating the ‘right’ kinds of dispositions for surviving in neoliberal society: confidence, resilience, and positive mental attitude. Together these affective, cultural and psychic features of postfeminism exert a powerful regulatory force.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: Gill, R., The affective, cultural and psychic life of postfeminism: 10 years on, European Journal of Cultural Studies, Vol 20, Issue 6, pp. 606 - 626 . Copyright © 2017 Rosalind Gill. Reprinted by permission of SAGE Publications.
Publisher Keywords: 2002 Cultural Studies, 1504 Commercial Services, 2001 Communication And Media Studies
Departments: School of Communication & Creativity > Media, Culture & Creative Industries > Culture & the Creative Industries
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