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Department of Geography

Staff Profile

Publication details for Professor Ben Anderson

Anderson, B. Neoliberal Affects. Progress in Human Geography. 2016;40:734-753.

Author(s) from Durham


Claims about neoliberalism and its geographies frequently involve assumptions about the affective life of neoliberalism and/or neoliberal societies. However, existing cultural approaches to neoliberalism as a discursive formation, an ideology or governmentality collapse a concern with affect into a focus on the operation of signifying-subjectfying processes that make ‘neoliberal subjects’. Political economy approaches only make implicit claims about the ‘mood’ of neoliberal societies. In this paper, I argue that collective affects are part of the conditions of formation for particular neoliberalisms and therefore understanding the affective life of neoliberalism is critical to explaining how it emerges, forms and changes. Through examples including The Mont Pelerin Society, the Chicago School of Economics and Thatcherism, I propose a vocabulary that supplements existing approaches by focusing on the affective conditions for neoliberalism, specifically the atmospheres that are part of the formation of neoliberal reason and the structures of feeling that condition how particular neoliberalisms actualize in the midst of other things. The result is a way of discerning neoliberalisms as both conditioned by affects and ‘actually existing’ affectively – as dispersed affective ‘qualities’ or ‘senses’.