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Responsibility vs. Responsibilisation: The neoliberal space of human activity

Učník, L. (2016) Responsibility vs. Responsibilisation: The neoliberal space of human activity. In: 11th Annual International Interdisciplinary Conference: Radical Interventions Politics, Culture, Society, 7 - 9 September 2016, University of Brighton, UK


In this paper, I will discuss the neoliberal construction of the subject as an entrepreneurial self, based on the
economic notion of ‘human capital’. I will argue that this framing of the self is a fiction that has become
accepted as everyday reality: this reduces the political space to that of the marketplace, the state to a
corporation, and education to a vocational training ground, producing compliant subjects for a risk-driven
present defined by corporate logic. I will revisit Jan Patočka’s paper on ‘Super-civilisation’ to offer a possible
understanding of this new configuration of society. Patočka’s consideration of the changes to modern society
is an extension of his concern with the ‘responsibility of the subject.’ I will sketch his argument in opposition
to the notion of ‘responsibilisation’ of the neoliberal subject, which is the outcome of the changes I have
outlined above. The neoliberal subject is configured on the entrepreneurial model, whereby the social and
political become reduced to the personal risk of the ‘responsibilised’ neoliberal subject.

Item Type: Conference Paper
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Arts
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