Introduction: rights cultures, subjects, citizens

Brandstater, Suzanne; Wade, Peter and Woodward, Kath (2011). Introduction: rights cultures, subjects, citizens. In Economy and Society Economy and Society, 40(2) pp. 166-183.



This special issue arose from a concern with the political logic of the foregrounding of collective cultures in the context of changing citizenship regimes. Its key focus is the conjuncture in which culture – claims of a collective distinction concerning heritage, location, moralities and values – has become the terrain of political struggles over the subject of rights in national and international politics, the re-allocation of entitlements, definitions of value, and new forms of political representation. This is linked to contemporary processes of neo-liberalization, the politics of which are often defined in terms of economic policies promoting private accumulation, entrepreneurship and free markets, but which typically also include a project of governance in which not only individuals, but also collective agents, as cultural entities, are charged with increasing responsibility for their own regulation, welfare and enterprise, but in a depoliticized and bureaucratized mode. Citizenship is central as the modern political and legal institution which links certain notions of personal rights and duties with the structures of governance and political agency, on the one hand, and with the national, and by extension, transnational economy, on the other.

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