“There’s no such thing as society: only individuals (and their families)”. This was perhaps Margaret Thatcher’s most notorious public pronouncement. It was also one of the few moments when she made explicit her commitment to the ideals and assumptions of ‘neoliberalism’: the individualistic political philosophy that has come to dominate our politics, our culture and our lives.
After the 2008 crash, and the rise of Corbynism, we’re hearing a lot of discussion these days about the problems with neoliberal economics, which basically wants to privatise everything, drive down wages and cut taxes for the rich. We don’t hear so much about neoliberalism as a cultural ideology, promoting individualism, competition and greed in every area of life, from the nursery to the hospice. But without understanding this, we can’t understand how ruling elites have got away with imposing such an unpopular programme for so long. We’ll have a think about this here – and take the opportunity to revise a bit of Marx, Gramsci and Foucault.
This session is part of our Introduction to Cultural Studies programme, in partnership with the Centre for Cultural Studies Research at the University of East London. For more information click here.