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Punishment and InclusionRace, Membership, and the Limits of American Liberalism$
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Andrew Dilts

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780823262410

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823262410.001.0001

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Neoliberal Penality and the Biopolitics of Homo Œconomicus

Neoliberal Penality and the Biopolitics of Homo Œconomicus

(p.51) 3 Neoliberal Penality and the Biopolitics of Homo Œconomicus
Punishment and Inclusion

Andrew Dilts

Fordham University Press

This chapter gives a genealogy of homo œconomicus as a paradigmatic figure of neoliberal governmentality that provides the implicit framework of subjectivity marking the conditions of possibility for the late 20th century “reforms” of criminal disenfranchisement. Nineteenth-century conceptions of criminality and membership, which saw disenfranchisement as expressly punitive, give way to more “regulatory” conceptions that enable and support the operation of white supremacy in the contemporary US. Insofar as neoliberalism, especially as defined by “Chicago School” economic theorists Gary Becker and Theodore Schultz, has become an important framework for understating the current moment, punishment scholars have pointed out the ways in which punitive sanctions and the paternalistic governance of poverty and race support rather than undermine neoliberal economic policy. This chapter extends these analyses by attending to the particular kinds of subjects formed by and through neoliberalism and, by extension, to the policing of political membership that relies on such subjects. Lastly, this chapter sets up a turn back to the terms of liberalism in the American tradition showing how race, punishment, and political membership are tied together in the neoliberal account of subjectivity.

Keywords:   Homo œconimicus, Michel Foucault, Neoliberalism, Biopolitics, rational choice, penality, Chicago School, Gary Becker, Theodore Schultz, Subjectivity, Race

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