Governing the present: activism, neoliberalism and the problem of power and consent

Newman, Janet (2014). Governing the present: activism, neoliberalism and the problem of power and consent. Critical Policy Studies, 8(2) pp. 133–147.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/19460171.2013.818397

Abstract

This paper begins by tracing some of the different standpoints from which a critical engagement with ‘governance’ has been developed, then goes on to assess the potential contribution of some strands of feminist cultural and political theory. Such theory, used to frame the findings of a particular research project, offers a challenge to power-resistance models of politics, showing instead how social movement activism is both implicated in, and stands in opposition to, transformative governing projects. The paper shows how this form of analysis might approach the understanding of current struggles for power and consent, drawing on notions of hegemonic projects and conjunctural analysis. The paper ends by arguing against the forms of ‘strong theory’ that characterizes much contemporary analysis of neoliberal governance, arguing instead for a combination of ‘critique’ and ‘criticality’ within – and beyond – the academy.

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