Economies of empathy: Obama, neoliberalism, and social justice

Pedwell, Carolyn (2012) Economies of empathy: Obama, neoliberalism, and social justice. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 30 (2). pp. 280-297. ISSN 0263-7758. (doi:https://doi.org/10.1068/d22710) (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided)

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Official URL
http://dx.doi.org/10.1068/d22710

Abstract

This paper asks how we might theorise the politics of empathy in a context in which visions of social justice premised on empathetic engagement need to be situated within prevailing neoliberal frameworks. Through reading the ambivalent grammar of President Obama’s emotional rhetoric, I examine how it resonates in different ways both with feminist and antiracist debates about empathy and social justice and with the neoliberal discourse of the ‘empathy economy’ expressed within popular business literatures. I argue that, in framing empathy as a competency to be developed by individuals alongside imperatives to become more risk-taking and self-enterprising, Obama’s rhetoric reveals its centrist neoliberal underpinnings and risks (re)producing social and geopolitical exclusions and hierarchies. Yet, I suggest that seeing the phenomenon of ‘Obama-mania’ as produced not only within discourses of neoliberal governmentality but also through more radical intersections of empathy, hope, and imagination illustrates how empathy might be conceptualised as an affective portal to different spaces and times of social justice

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled keywords: affect, empathy, hope, imagination, neoliberalism, Obama, social justice
Subjects: H Social Sciences
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Social Policy Sociology and Social Research
Depositing User: Carolyn Pedwell
Date Deposited: 09 Sep 2014 14:31 UTC
Last Modified: 05 Sep 2017 11:18 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/42862 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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