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Spring 2024


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Wendy Brown’s Undoing the Demos reviewed in Foucault Studies

Writing in the August issue of Foucault Studies (a wonderful open access journal), Oscar Larsson offers a really great review of Wendy Brown’s Undoing the Demos. Click here to read the full review. Click here to learn more about the book. An excerpt appears below:

“Wendy Brown’s sharp eye and even sharper pen have been used in her previous publications to dissect issues of tolerance, sovereignty and walls, feminism, power, and knowledge. In her most recent book, Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism’s Stealth Revolution, she assembles a number of empirical observations and theoretical accounts into a thoroughgoing analysis of the hegemonic, insidiously spreading rationality that underpins neoliberalism. This work constitutes an important contribution to both the political and the academic debate through its demonstration of how neoliberalism, as a specific form of rationality, reconfigures all aspects of human existence into economic relations. Brown does not simply address the fact that markets and money degrade and corrupt democracy and public life, but rather builds her analysis upon the Foucauldian approach of governmentality in articulating how the rationality of neoliberalism converts “the distinctly political character, meaning and operation of democracy’s constituent elements into economic ones” (17). She also draws important empirical and analytical connections between Foucault’s analytical approach to governmentality and a complementary Marxist critique of the material inequality that follows from neoliberal market reforms as she constructs a rich empirical analysis of how neoliberalism creates economic inequality, undoes the demos, and breeds populism in- stead of political and public engagement. In addition, Brown shows how such developments are reinforced by widespread acceptance of the concept of human capital and the subjectivization of homo oeconomicus.”