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Workers in the New Economy: Subjectivity as Border Crossing

Walkerdine, Valerie 2006. Workers in the New Economy: Subjectivity as Border Crossing. Ethos 34 (1) , pp. 10-41. 10.1525/eth.2006.34.1.010

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Abstract

In this article, I seek to make an intervention in debates between psycho-logical and postmodern anthropology by engaging with the theme of border crossing. I argue that the theme of the border is one that fundamentally instantiates a separation between interior and exterior with respect to subjectivity, itself a funda-mental transformation and a painful and difficult border. This is related to a Cartesian distinction critiqued in this article. How the distinction between interior and exterior may be transcended is discussed in relation to examples of transformation from the crossing of class borders to the production and regulation of workers in a globalized and neoliberal economy. I begin with reference to postwar transformations of class with its anxious borders and go on to think about changes in the labor market and how these demand huge transformations that tear apart communities, destroy work-places, and sunder the sense of safety and stability that those gave. Advanced liberalism or neoliberalism brings with it a speeding up of the transformations of liberalism in which subjects are constantly invoked as self-contained, with a trans-portable self that must be produced through the developmental processes of personality and rationality. This self must be carried like a snail carries a shell. It must be coherent yet mutable, fixed yet multiple and flexible. But this view of the subject covers over the many connections that make subjectivity possible. I conclude by ask-ing what it would mean to rethink this issue of the production of safe spaces beyond an essentialist psychological conception of only one mother child space, separated from the social world, as having the power to produce feelings of safety? I end the article with an argument for a relational approach to subjectivity and sociality.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
Uncontrolled Keywords: subjectivity, relationality, neoliberalism, workers, class
Publisher: American Anthropological Association
ISSN: 0091-2131
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 01:49
URI: http://orca-mwe.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/3065

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