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Neoliberalism, Violence, and the Body: Dollhouse and the Critique of the Neoliberal Subject

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Matt DaviesORCiD, Dr Amanda Chisholm



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0).


What is the relationship between neoliberal subjectivities and sexual violence? Prevailing accounts of neoliberalism assert a particular notion of subjectivity, reflected in the notion of homo oeconomicus as an entrepreneur of the self, embedded in social relations of competition, with characteristics to enable behaviours that affirm or reproduce neoliberal rationality. This article, drawing upon the television series Dollhouse, argues for a contrary understanding of subjectivity as concretely embodied, emerging from lived experience shaped by violence. We examine theoretical critiques of neoliberalism, which have not sufficiently explored the integral role of violence in neoliberalism’s subject forming process. Dollhouse, read as a theoretically informed diagnosis of neoliberal subjectivity, shows how subjects are produced in embodied, everyday lived experience and how violence – in particular sexual and racial violence – is integral to the inscription of neoliberal subjectivity. This analytical move enables a critique of the neoliberal subject in terms of the lived experience of subjectification, contributing to a political understanding of subjectivity that critiques the depoliticized image of the neoliberal subject.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Davies M, Chisholm A

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: International Political Sociology

Year: 2018

Volume: 12

Issue: 3

Pages: 274-290

Print publication date: 01/09/2018

Online publication date: 16/05/2018

Acceptance date: 15/12/2017

Date deposited: 12/01/2018

ISSN (print): 1749-5679

ISSN (electronic): 1749-5687

Publisher: Oxford University Press


DOI: 10.1093/ips/oly001


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